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Mental health trust praised in national report
​The high quality care that Norfolk and Suffolk’s mental health trust provides to people with learning disabilities and autism has been praised in a national report.

Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was one of just five mental health trusts, and the only one outside of London, the Midlands and Yorkshire, to feature in a review of the Green Light Toolkit initiative.

The toolkit was published in 2013 by the National Development Team for Inclusion (NDTi) in order to improve the way that mental health services in England respond to people who also have learning disabilities or autism.

NDTi, a not for profit organisation working to enable people at risk of exclusion, due to age or disability, to live the life they choose, has published Green Light Work: Reflections on examples from five NHS Trusts.

NDTi’s Peter Bates, who wrote the report, said: “I’m delighted to acknowledge the pioneering work of NSFT, and especially the passion and commitment of the Green Light Champions.

“Their energy has taken the Green Light agenda to every part of the Trust and beyond into community organisations.

“Significantly, the Trust has continued to invest in the Green Light agenda and it is this that has delivered the year-on-year improvements of which the Trust can be justly proud.”

People with learning disabilities and/or autism as well as additional mental health problems have complex needs and need support and advice to enable them to access services.

The Green Light Toolkit enables adjustments to be made to ensure these service users receive health care in the same way as everyone else.

Sue Bridges, NSFT’s Professional Lead (LD/Autism), said that Mr Bates had visited the Trust to talk to staff and service users to help him research the report. He told her NSFT was a national leader in the implementation of the Green Light Toolkit.

“It’s satisfying that the high quality work of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust has been acknowledged in a national report,” she said. 

“Our Trust has fully embraced the Green Light agenda and for us it is a leading priority which is championed by our director of nursing, quality and patient safety with support from our staff.

“Since the report was published, we’ve been approached by staff from trusts from all over the country who want to learn from us.

“My hope is that the report will help to promote Green Light work in all mental health trusts because we already know it makes a significant difference to the experience of our service users who have autism or learning disabilities.”

Changes that have been made by NSFT include: 

• Making sure all ward signage at Hellesdon Hospital is easy to understand and accessible to everyone

• Sending easy read appointment letters which include a photograph of the staff member so that service users can recognise them when they arrive at their home

• Developing clear and easy-to-use web pages for the Suffolk Autism Diagnostic Service which explains the help it provides and includes photographs of every member of staff (available by clicking here)

• Using blue envelopes when posting appointment letters so that they are easy to identify and therefore more likely to get opened

The toolkit, which contains 27 standards to help mental health services respond more effectively to people with learning disabilities or autism, was implemented by NSFT in October 2015.

NSFT has trained 184 “Green Light Champions”, people with a particular interest or expertise in autism or learning disabilities who promote best practice.

They include staff working in all areas of the Trust, service users and champions in other organisations, such as Suffolk Community Healthcare and Norfolk Community Health and Care NHS Trust.

In an audit carried out last year, NSFT was performing above the national average on 24 of the 27 toolkit standards.

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