Innovating in the NHS - We Are Brighter Together

Ben Hart

Yesterday I had the pleasure of facilitating in conjunction with an amazing artistic hand of Dead Cat Dreaming an innovation lab for our good friends at Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Combining together a fantastic bunch of people working for the trust with representation from service users and carers we set out throughout the day to innovate and look for new ideas and innovations that we could make happen to improve inpatient mental health care for people in Berkshire which already has a good rating from the CQC.

Having worked variously in mental health over the years I always find it a fascinating place to engage, passionate people working tremendously hard with often difficult circumstance and subject matter. My hats off to these brilliant and often unsung heroes of the NHS - I always get a truly authentic feeling that they truly care about the difference they make to people's lives when faced with mental health issues or trauma.

As these events occur it's not always easy to know where to turn for help, and given that one in four people in the UK at some stage in their lives will be affected by a mental health issue the fact that so many excellent people are there for us is why the NHS is so important.

No system is perfect. In exploring how to improve the already excellent work that BHFT already undertake, 20 of us hacked through ideas, scenarios, and dreams for a world class service.

The below are my reflections on some of the themes that emerged:

  • Without the opportunity for the equivalent of the high streets well-dressed shop window or for that matter the resources to invite people in with appeal in the face of difficulty finding ways to alleviate the anxiety people might face on entrance can point to ideas like pre-entrance-induction or ensuring that providers are there to listen and answer concerns prior
  • Helping people to recover from mental health issues is most successful when the support function is multifaceted and cohesive. For example family, friends and carers being there and understanding that their role presents opportunities for those that care outside of healthcare organisations to play a vital role
  • Clear treatment plans that enable people to understand where they are on their own personalised journey to improvement can likewise reduce anxiety and help guide through what can be a complex and intimidating system when you are unwell. Much is in place, making it accessible in the means and ways that people find most useful is a definite opportunity, from paper (which still works!) through apps and other online devices to future views around online chat. Similarly, a helping hand to navigate can provide support. Shared access amongst those that matter outside of professional care is interesting in its application and complex in its implementation given sensitivities and confidentiality
  • Finding innovative ways for technology to aid a wellness journey is tantalising, from alerts to aiding self-management of mood or access through connecting people that can help. Berkshire is a trust that is truly innovating in a range of areas and to continue to do so will allow it to pursue even better care while creating more time and space for its people to do what they are so passionate about - helping people be well
  • Providing space for new ideas to not only resonate but also to be nurtured, enabled and turned into action is the heartland of innovation - yesterday was a brilliant build on the great work that had already been undertaken and I look forward to seeing some of the ideas that we worked up not only improve the service but more fundamentally help the people of Berkshire be well.

The image for this blog was painted as we explored our ideas and a metaphor for many of the areas we reviewed and presented as part of BHFTs We Are Brighter Together innovation day.

Big thank you to the team for having me along and especially Elaine Williams and David Monk.

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