A Consultant Psychiatrist is hoping to bring back Australian best practice to benefit young patients in Norfolk and Suffolk when she visits the country this autumn to learn how teenagers with emerging personality disorders are diagnosed and treated.
Dr Sarah Maxwell, who works for Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT), has been awarded a fellowship from the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust, which will fund her four-week trip to Melbourne.
During her visit, she will shadow clinicians from the world-leading Orygen Youth Service, and will look in detail at the way young people with personality disorders are assessed, diagnosed and treated.
After returning to the UK, Dr Maxwell, who is a Consultant Child and Adolescent Psychiatrist, will share her learning both locally and nationally so that clinicians can adapt the practice used in Australia to meet the needs of their own service users.
“I was both surprised and delighted to be awarded the fellowship, and am excited and slightly overwhelmed about going to Australia,” said Dr Maxwell, who works with the Great Yarmouth and Waveney Youth Team. “Orygen are world-renowned and at the forefront of research into personality disorders in young people, so I am intrigued to find out more about their work.
“Some of the developments we have introduced at NSFT have been modelled on the care Orygen provide to young people with mental health problems. I hope that we will be able to do the same with regards to personality disorders, by adapting their approach to benefit young patients in Norfolk and Suffolk.
“In Australia, they use a standardised assessment to diagnose patients, who are then offered up to a year of treatment made up of weekly cognitive analytic therapy sessions and support and education for their families and carers. A lot of work goes into setting this up with the young person and their family, which is something I think we could learn from in the UK.
“Although the outcomes from this treatment are good, not all of the young people sign up to take part and I will be interested to talk to them about the reasons why as it will help to inform the work we do locally.”
The Winston Churchill Memorial Trust was set up in 1965 and funds British citizens to investigate inspiring practice in other countries, and return with innovative ideas for the benefit of people across the UK.
More than 5,250 people have been awarded Churchill Fellowships, with the aim of bringing back new approaches to tackle a wide range of social, environmental, medical and scientific issues.
For more information, visit www.wcmt.org.uk