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Extra steps to keep service users safe

World Suicide Prevention Day – 10 September 2020 

Patients receiving care from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) are to be given comprehensive plans to keep them safe after their discharge as part of a new initiative designed to reduce suicides. 

The pilot project will see specially-trained Peer Support Workers work closely with staff and service users on six of NSFT's wards to develop a safety plan for every inpatient. 

As well as helping patients identify reasons to keep themselves safe, the plans will also give them self-management tools they can use, such as techniques to regulate their emotions and manage difficult feelings. 

The pilot has been funded with £22,460 of national suicide prevention money and developed in response to research which shows that service users are most at risk of taking their own lives within 72 hours of leaving acute care. 

It comes as part of a wider programme to embed safety planning across the Trust. 

Liz Howlett (pictured), Suicide Prevention Lead with NSFT, said: "This is a fantastic project which will support our zero suicide ambition by helping to keep our service users safe after their discharge. 

"We have trained around 50 staff in safety planning and received some really fantastic feedback about the course. The next stages are to put that learning into action so that every patient leaving one of these pilot wards does so with a personalised safety plan in place." 

Initially, the pilot will take place on wards in Bury St Edmunds, Ipswich Great Yarmouth and Norwich. It will run for six months, after which the results will be evaluated before a decision is taken as to whether to roll it out more widely. 

Amanda Green, Peer Support Lead, said: "Safety plans are collaborative, jointly owned plans made between the service user, their carers and staff in which everyone agrees what the individual can do keep themselves safe. 

"Safety plans help service users move forward with their recovery by teaching them to use self-management techniques. By helping them to effectively manage their feelings, we hope that the plans will prevent them escalating towards a crisis." 

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