As the NHS celebrated its 70th birthday this year I am sure we all thought about how important the NHS is to us.
I am proud to work at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust and I feel privileged to work in mental health and learning disability services. Over the last few years, we have listened to our staff and responded to what they want us to do to improve their working lives as they care for others.
We also listen to our patients and their carers about what is important to them and their loved ones. We have made some important changes to improve the services we offer to patients in Lincolnshire.
Nothing instills hope more than talking to someone who has been through similar circumstances. Our 17 peer support workers have been through difficulties with their mental health and are employed by us to make a difference; using their personal experience of living with mental health problems to help others.
Having a job is a life-preserving and enhancing thing. I was reminded of this when our learning disability experts by experience received their induction in 2018. These experts help us to be even better at what we do and they were so excited! I will never forget the looks on their faces as they received their badges and lanyards.
This year LPFT has been lucky to get funding to introduce new services which support people at their most vulnerable, reducing the need for long stays in hospital and keeping them safe, with support, close to where they live.
Working together our teams have supported over 300 people to receive care without the need for admission to a mental health ward. Previously some of these people would have to travel long distances away from their homes to get the care they needed.
We can all improve understanding of mental health problems and I’d encourage everyone to become Dementia Friends and do your training with the Alzheimer’s Society (my mum did it, and you can too). Dementia is likely to affect everyone’s life at some point. Whether it’s your parent, your partner or your friend who lives with dementia, by becoming a Dementia Friend you can learn more about the condition and the ways you can help.
Similarly please consider doing your online suicide prevention training this year. It is available to anyone who wants to help people to talk about how they are feeling and a conversation could save a life.
I’m looking forward to continuing to develop our services in 2019, working with patients and partners to reduce the stigma associated with mental health conditions. The NHS is one of our greatest achievements as a nation.
But there is much more we need to do – building capacity in our communities in Lincolnshire; supporting the great work that is going on to support people who are homeless or rough sleeping; supporting young people with their wellbeing and supporting everyone to live well and to be resilient.
When I think about the NHS I am moved by the compassion and dedication of our staff who consistently put their patients first, and I am sure you will want to join me in thanking all of them for what they do.
Jane Marshall is Director of Strategy at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. She has worked in the NHS for 30 years in various roles and for the last seven years, when she’s been with LPFT, she has been working on ensuring that mental health is given the same importance as physical health.