Posted on: 28 March 2024

“I was impressed by the positive responses I was given by the majority who described the service as responsive, well led, caring and safe.” This is a summary from Vittoria De Meo, an independent Mental Health Advisor, who recently held interviews with some former patients of the Lighthouse service at St Mary’s Hospital.

The Lighthouse is a mental health assessment centre, providing patients who require emergency care for their mental health an immediate therapeutic environment to be seen by professionals.

Through these interviews and a survey offered to patients, we have received the following feedback:

A majority of patients (six out of seven) reported being treated with “compassion, empathy, dignity and respect” during their stay at The Lighthouse. The same majority “felt listened to” and were made aware of the steps that would be taken towards their care.

One respondent was critical as they had to leave when the service closed at 7pm – this closing time has since been extended to 9pm.

When asked what they felt overall about the service, patients said they were “feeling very grateful” and praised the staff because “they talked to me”.

Vittoria was able to speak with one individual in more detail:

A Journey through Lighthouse:

MM (anonymous) was struggling with low mood and wanted to self- harm. She stated that she had been out drinking and felt she needed support for her anxiety, thoughts of hopelessness and low mood. At this time, she had good insight into her mental health needs and visited an emergency department for help.

She said, “I was seen in an emergency department and was then transferred to The Lighthouse in the early hours of the morning. This, I realise, was really good for me – it was perfect timing! A&E was very loud and caused my anxiety to worsen. After I was moved to The Lighthouse I felt safe, both in myself and from those around me. I was listened to.”

MM was allowed to sleep for a number of hours and, on waking, was offered a drink and 1:1 with staff from liaison to plan her care. She also met with REST (The Rapid Engagement Support Team)

“The service was so good, it really did help me and I felt safe. I wasn’t expecting to see the drug and alcohol service the following morning but it came at the right time and was very useful. They sat down with me and helped me begin my journey to sobriety, joining up my care.”

MM stated that she had previously had an appointment at The Coves before being based at The Lighthouse which helped her feel safe; she knew the staff and the environment.

MM felt that the way all the services operated together worked for her and that all teams communicated well with each other. She didn’t have to re-tell her story multiple times and she was quickly understood.

Since her time at The Lighthouse MM, has not returned to the Emergency Department. She has continued to work with CNWL alcohol services and The Coves. With their support she has returned to work.