Changing the face of mental health in Camden

In this case study, Dr Alex Warner discusses how developing an Integrated Practice Unit (IPU) will improve the way people receive treatment for both their mental and physical needs.

With the IPU already making its mark in Islington, C&I NHS Foundation Trust wanted to find out what it could expect to happen in Camden once the virtual group of services are fully established early in 2017.

The initiative – which will begin with improving the way people with psychosis are treated for all of their health needs – is believed to be the first of its kind in the country. It aims to produce better shared-learning amongst healthcare professionals so service users will be able to discuss their mental and social care needs, medication, their physical health needs, long-term conditions and more, all within the same environment.

Dr Warner – a GP partner at Caversham Group Practice and Clinical Mental Health Lead at Camden Clinical Commissioning Group – said: “The IPU will really be a game changer in the way healthcare is delivered. I’ll be able to speak to other healthcare professionals – like pharmacists – for their specialist help directly, rather than having to refer the service user on. This will ensure their treatment is far more streamlined than it is at the minute.

“New staff will be recruited who have specialities in both physical and mental health, and we will be looking at how we can use our current staff’s expertise and skills more effectively.”

With a practice that serves around 14,500 patients, Dr Warner believes at least two or three people each week will benefit from the IPU services.

With patients in mind, Dr Warner told us: “Treatment will be tailored to meet the needs of the individual service user. This might be at their local practice or in their own home – whatever will be most beneficial for them.”

Ensuring patients have been involved in the development of the IPU, a number of workshops have taken place to help identify what matters most. Service users, carers and healthcare professionals were in attendance, all helping to determine what the key priorities and outcomes should be. Dr Warner said: “Service user involvement has been a really powerful part of this as it has helped us to shape the IPU for their needs.”

Psychiatrists, Community Psychiatric Nurses and Social Workers have really backed the development of the IPU, as they collectively want to be able to do more for service users, and reduce the number of people who statistically die ten years earlier because they have psychosis.

Concluding with why the IPU is being implemented, Dr Warner stated: “If your physical health is managed well, your mental health will improve, and vice versa.”

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