Sara's Christmas blog

In her final blog of 2019, our Chief Executive Dr Sara Munro reflects on a few of our many achievements, takes a look at what’s coming up next year and pays tribute to our dedicated colleagues

Season’s greetings,

I always find that this is a good time to take stock and reflect on the past year.

First of all I’d like to say well done to our fantastic teams – you’ve achieved so much and on behalf of the Board, I’d like to thank you for your wonderful dedication and support.

I hope most of you get the chance to have a break and spend time with family and friends over the coming weeks. I’d like to pay tribute to the dedicated workers who will be covering shifts throughout the Christmas period; on the wards, in the community, on call, or in a supporting role – they will be there when people need help the most.

Improving quality of care

I was delighted to attend an event in January with our Forensic Services who were showcasing progress on their quality improvement journey. Two years ago they were a service with real problems relating to performance, quality and staff culture. It is clear that the work led by the service management team has had a fantastic impact and this progress has continued throughout 2019.

This year marked the launch of a range of new community health services which included new dedicated teams for both younger and older adults, a new 24/7 mental health crisis service and an intensive home treatment team. This has been a massive three year project, and I’m really grateful to everyone who has contributed. It will make a huge difference to the thousands of people we care for in the community. You can find more information about the new services on our website.

Engagement with our service users, carers and the public on their experience of our services is always high up on our priorities. Following on from a report into how we involve service users, carers and members of the public we tested its findings at a Valuing Inclusion event in March. Our guests at the Annual Members’ Day also had an opportunity to help us shape our strategic priorities. The output from all this work has been our new Patient Experience and Involvement Strategy and we look forward to sharing this in the coming months and most importantly, putting it into practice.

This year learning disability nursing will have been a recognised specialty for 100 years. We have nurses who support people on inpatient wards, in the community and in supported living accommodation. Working as part of a wider team they help people to lead their lives as fully and independently as possible. We celebrated this important milestone in October at a special event which brought together nurses, service users and our health and social care partners. You can find out more about what it’s like to work in this rewarding and noble profession from four of our LD nursing super stars Christina, Julie, Emily and Lindsey.

We got some positive initial feedback about our CQC inspection which took place a few months ago. At the time of writing we’re still awaiting our final report but anticipate it will be out really soon.

Exciting new service launches

September saw the launch of two very important new services led by the Trust in partnership with other organisations. The first is the Leeds Recovery College led by Simon Burton. The second is the Northern Gambling Service led by Matt Gaskell.

Both of these services, whilst very different share the following; passionate leadership, team work, collaborative working and community focus. In 2020 the hard work will continue as these services develop their reputations for providing quality care and support to service users in need. The Northern Gambling Service will be expanding their team and opening two new bases in Manchester and Sunderland in January which everyone is looking forward to.

Recognition for our fantastic people

There has been a great deal of external recognition for our people this year from industry peers, award schemes and journals. For example, our junior doctors continue to be recognised and supported in achieving outstanding work. There have been contributions to books and articles from our Leeds Autism Diagnostic Service and Forensics Service.

Some of our teams have been shortlisted for national awards, including:

  • Deaf CAMHS for a Royal College of Psychiatrists Award,
  • Easy On The I for a Learning Disabilities and Autism Award,
  • The Specialist Personality Disorder Service for a national Positive Practice in Mental Health Award, and
  • The Veterans Complex Mental Health Service for a Nursing Times Award.

It’s been a big year for our regional Eating Disorders Service CONNECT. They won a Positive Practice in Mental Health Award and hosted the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire live programme in July.

One of the highlights of the year (as always) was the annual Trust Awards when hundreds of staff and volunteers took some time out to get together. It was a glittering and buoyant night where we celebrated many reasons to be proud. Well done to all the winners, runners up and everyone who was nominated. You can check out all the winners on our website here.

And what a great way to round off the year when Steph Smith and Paul Butler from our Personality Disorders Service were finalists in the Yorkshire Evening Post Health Awards. Paul went on to win the Mental Health and Wellbeing Award, of which we’re all really proud. It’s always all the more special knowing that those nominations have been made by service users who have received support from us.

Looking ahead – what’s in store for 2020?

We’re looking forward to the launch of our new electronic patient record (EPR) system using the CareDirector software. This is an ambitious project but it needs to be, as we know this is one of our staff’s biggest gripes and can limit our ability to provide the standard of care we aspire to.

We will be carrying on with our work to upgrade and redevelop some of our estates with a big focus on St Mary’s Hospital where a new clinical hub at Holly House will open in late January improving the environment for our service users and staff. A partnership with Leeds Community Healthcare will see work start on a new state-of-the-art inpatient facility for young people at the Armley site. It will provide 22 in-patient beds and deliver much needed improvements and facilities. Read more about it on our website.

We’ll be continuing our ‘Improving Culture: Improving Lives’ staff engagement programme which will help us make some positive changes to improve staff experience. We’re holding some face-to-face workshops in the New Year. Once we’ve analysed the feedback, our Culture Collaborative will meet in April and make recommendations about what issues we need to tackle in what order. These conversations are really making a difference and I want to thank everyone who’s taken part so far.

Work has started on the Acute Care Excellence Programme which is reviewing our inpatient wards and lots of exciting ideas have been suggested by our staff at the programme launch event. Next year we will be looking in more detail at improving the quality of the service user journey at the pre-admission, admission and transfer of care stages.

And finally – remember to look after yourselves and each other

We need to remember that staff can be service users and carers as well, and none of us are immune from suffering mental ill health. Here are some things that may help you over the festive period if you’re feeling under pressure.

Have a breather and listen to this helpful 30 minute podcast, with tips about caring for your health at this busy time of year, which has been recorded by some of our colleagues:

> the Trust’s former leader of the year Josef Faulkner – Community Mental Health Service Manager and mental health nurse
> Deputy Director of Nursing, Nichola Sanderson
> Judith Barnes, Operations Manager for Crisis Resolution Intensive Support Service
> Tom Hitchen-Louden, Clinical Team Manager for the Assertive Outreach Team

Also, why not commit to start the New Year on a positive note by getting yourself booked on to a free self-care course with Leeds Recovery College.

We all lead busy lives and when it comes to using NHS services it can often be tricky to find the time to do things like booking GP appointments and ordering repeat prescriptions. To help with this the NHS has developed an app. It’s a great way to make it easier to look after your health. The app can be downloaded from your network provider’s app store. Just search “NHS app”.

I want to leave you on a very festive note with a song from the wonderful band of singers ‘Trust Your Voice’, our staff choir.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy and healthy new year.