£1.6m Specialist Teams To Treat More Mental Patients At Home

MORE psychiatric patients are to be treated in their own homes under a £1.6 million NHS Lothian scheme.

Two teams with 18 professionals each, including consultants, doctors, nurses and specialists, will work in north and south Edinburgh.

The move will mean the Royal Edinburgh Hospital will be able to reduce beds from 125 to 100.

But health chiefs today insisted the move would provide better care and that patients who could be a risk to themselves or others would still be detained.

NHS Lothian has also just spent £700,000 improving mental health care at the accident and emergency department of the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, so people can receive specialist care on the spot, without having to wait to be admitted.

It is planned to use the space freed up at the Royal Edinburgh to provide additional services in the hospital, including a gym and a kitchen.

Experts believe the chance to receive counselling and support in their own homes will help patients recover more quickly. It is also hoped the greater level of support will help prevent relapses and they will not have to be readmitted.

Tim Montgomery, director of operations at the Royal Edinburgh, said: “Today, if people become unwell there are few options available to us to support them at home.

“If it’s felt for their own safety and others it is best for them to come into hospital then they will do, but from October there will be the alternative of supporting them safely in their own homes.”

Each team will have the capacity to help about 40 patients at any one time. Initially, they might go to their homes three or four times a day, or even stay overnight.

The teams will include a clinical psychologist, an occupational therapist and a social worker.

There will be no redundancies as a result of the move but some hospital staff will be moved to work in the community.

Lorna Martin, chief nurse at the Royal Edinburgh, said: “Most of what they will do is what’s called talking therapies – listening to the patients, talking and engaging with individuals and their relatives.

“This often takes time and this initiative will give staff the time to engage fully in people’s own homes.”

The initiative is based on successful models already used around the world, with great success in England, Midlothian and East Lothian.

Mental health work is already carried out in the community, but not to the level proposed.

Scotland Patients Association chief executive, Dr Jean Turner, said: “It’s a great idea, if you’ve got many highly skilled and highly qualified staff available 24 hours a day. The trouble with psychiatric patients is when they go off they need instant and specialist help.

“If you treat people in the community without a very high standard of care there will be problems.”