Category: Innovative commissioning

Winner: Older people’s home treatment team

Contact: Simon Sullivan, tel 07786 707331

E-mail: simon.sullivan@wolvespct.nhs.uk

The older people's home treatment service based at Penn Hospital in Wolverhampton is a unique and innovative service providing specialist integrated mental health assessment, treatment and support for older adults with complex mental health needs.

Mental health nurse Gloria Williams is team leader. She says: "We go into people's homes and we help them stay there. It's important - especially for older people - to be able to stay at home."

The service is nurse-led by Gloria, with full support from four consultant psychiatrists. It operates seven days a week. People referred to the service receive intensive home support and home treatment for up to six weeks.

Skilled team

Other team members include a psychiatrist, psychologist, nurses and an occupational therapist. Together, says Gloria, they have the skills to cope with most situations and can provide intensive support for several hours at a time if necessary.

The team is usually called by a carer or other professional when a service user is at crisis point. Once called in, says Gloria, they almost always manage to keep the person at home unless they need to be admitted to hospital under a section of the Mental Health Act or if they are in the advanced stages of dementia and it is no longer safe for them to be at home.

Gloria says: "We are able to do everything in the home that you can do in hospital without moving people about."

Surprisingly, given the growth of crisis resolution home treatment services for people with mental health problems, this service for older people is still almost unique in this country. It has proved itself a viable alternative to hospital admission.

The team's overall aims are to promote service users' quick recovery from illness, prevent unnecessary admissions to psychiatric inpatient beds, support timely discharge from psychiatric inpatient hospital, and maximise independent living by working with service users, carers and other agencies in clients' homes.

Team members provide short-term input, high-frequency crisis resolution, through offering crisis management psycho-social interventions, support with medication, support with daily living, support for carers and significant others, support with education and information, and support to access other services.