Over the last 12 months, the team at Kensington and Chelsea CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) have been working hard to streamline their assessment process and procedures; to reduce the time taken and improve both patient and clinician experiences.

“Feedback showed that our initial assessments involved a lot of administrative work,” says Dr Clare Firth, Clinical Psychologist at K&C CAMHS.

“A lot of documentation is required, including forms, letters, other things around appointments, and it was quite repetitive." Assessments were taking six and a half hours to complete, a big “eye opener” for the team.

Wanting to increase the direct care time for young people visiting the service, and support job satisfaction and wellbeing for staff, they set out to change this.

“There was a team of us from different parts of the service and we came together to brainstorm, which was really helpful to get those different ideas,” Clare continues. The group was able to adapt forms and letters by simplifying questions and eliminating unnecessary steps. “The assessment form is down to three pages, initially it was 12 pages long.”

During this phase, team members also started digitising parts of the assessment pathway, using a transcribing software called Dragon. In refining these administrative processes, the time taken for new patient assessments has reduced by over 20 per cent; now sitting at around five hours.

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“Cutting down the administrative work is hopefully going to start freeing up time for other activities, particularly patient-related ones by reducing our waiting times. It also improves the experience for clinicians. Rather than having to write everything down, we’re now able to pull information directly from online systems into patient letters.”

Co-production has been incredibly useful for this project. Clare explains that for every change idea, feedback was sought from young people and parent participation forums.

“We presented service users with three different versions of the care plan letter and asked them to pick which one they preferred. It was useful but also surprising to us. There were aspects we thought they would prefer, but they actually went in the opposite direction.”

The team are due to rollout the changes over the next month, and recently, they won a CNWL Improvement Academy Award for their work. This is some of the feedback:

“The developmental medical history form is easy to use and doesn’t take long.” – Service user

“The new assessment form is more streamlined and helps jog memory of what to ask. I liked the tick boxes and there is less to scroll through.” – Staff member

You can find more information about Kensington and Chelsea CAMHS on this service page.