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New-look recovery service helps service users live independently

​People with complex rehabilitation needs are receiving the help and support they need to live independently thanks to changes introduced by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) to improve quality and reduce length of stay and at a Suffolk inpatient unit.

The Suffolk Rehabilitation and Recovery Service (SRRS) cares for men and women with a wide range of complex and enduring mental health issues.

It launched in May 2015 and replaced Chilton House, a 15-bedded inpatient unit at the St Clements Hospital site in Ipswich originally created as a ‘home for life’, where service users could remain for more than 10 years.

By focusing more instead on rehabilitation and recovery, SRRS has reduced length of stay, repatriated five out-of-area placements, prevented a further three out-of-area placements and discharged 13 long-stay service users to the community within just 15 months.

The service has had such an impact since its launch that it also attracted praise from the CQC during its inspection last year, when it was awarded four ‘good’ ratings in the ‘safe’, ‘effective’, ‘caring’ and ‘responsive to people’s needs’ categories.

“Chilton House was designed as a home for life, which meant that most of its service users had been staying for more than a decade,” said Chris Platten, Ward Manager. “SRRS has completely changed the model of care. We now actively explore the idea of recovery with people, which has made a huge difference and saw all but two of our long-stay service users discharged within our first year.

“We have changed the whole construct of what we do, and have been given the chance to paint our own picture, which I really appreciate. We took everything back to the bare bones so that we could make the best use of our existing workforce and further upskill our staff. We’ve introduced dedicated occupational therapy support, a new education and supervision structure and some psychology, which we hope to increase over the coming months as it is having such a positive impact on our service users.”

To create the successful new service, the number of beds at the unit has been reduced to 10 so that the 25-strong staff team can offer intensive support, along with an outreach service when a service user is discharged.

The needs of individuals are also assessed in detail by a nurse and therapist before they are even admitted to the unit so that the right care plans can be put in place to help them meet their goals and move towards living an independent life.

“We are really pleased with how the service is working so far, and proud that we have made such major changes for the benefit of our service users in such a short space of time,” added Chris,

“Over the coming months we are hoping to build on this further by rolling out education sessions to acute sector and raising awareness that the service is there, improving our buildings and further involving carers in the services we provide.”