Posted on: 19 November 2020
A specialist community-based team that has seen a dramatic reduction in inpatient admissions of young people in crisis has won a prestigious award from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
The Adolescent Community Treatment Service (ACTS) has been named Psychiatric Team of the Year: Children and Adolescents during the College’s annual awards event – this year an online event only due to Covid.
The service provides intensive community-based interventions to support young people in crisis in the five London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Westminster, Brent, Harrow and Hillingdon, as an alternative to inpatient admission, by offering a smooth transition of care between inpatient and community services.
Evidence shows that prolonged admissions into inpatient units are associated with higher levels of self-harm and poorer school reintegration and are not cost effective.
Prior to its development, levels of general adolescent inpatient referrals had been rising, partly because there was no alternative intensive community-treatment provision. The service’s development was seen as part of the answer.
So, in January 2019, the ACTS steering group began collaborating with stakeholders and service users to develop a service to provide multidisciplinary, individualised interventions in the home, informed by evidence-based practice, for young people with acute mental health conditions.
This has been successful. Statistics show that in the year from going live in July 2019, ACTS prevented nearly 50 per cent of general acute adolescent inpatient admissions and the number of inpatient admissions reduced by a third compared to the same period in 2018/19.
At any one time the team works intensively with between 12 and 20 young people with the potential to offer daily contact.
One service user said of the service and staff: “I didn’t feel judged for having the problems I did. Nothing I said was dismissed. They care.”
A parent of a service user said: “I am not sure I would have handled things in the same way without the support of ACTS. They have taught us so much and we have many skills now.”
Team manager, Janet Walker, said: “This splendid award recognises the many hours the whole team, stakeholders and service users have put into rapidly developing a clinically sound service that is cost effective in enhancing outcomes for patients and highlighting the model for other Trusts looking to develop effective community treatment services.
“We can see from our statistics that ACTS is having a positive clinical effect on patient care and this is echoed by the feedback we receive from stakeholders and service users that ACTS is delivering a valuable, safe and high-quality service.”
Managing Director Graeme Caul said: “Well done to the team. This is much deserved. Your work has reduced admissions, delivered excellent clinical outcomes, improved patient and family experience and achieved impressive cost savings, freeing resources for investment in other CAMHS [Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services] provisions. The team’s ambition, enthusiasm, commitment and flexibility are an inspiration to colleagues across the CAMHS Directorate.”