Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, Healthcare Communications, and Mindwave Ventures have collaborated to implement a new web-based ‘one-stop shop’ to help children and young people with mental health issues across Liverpool and Sefton.
The platform has been rolled out across 13 organisations and three Integrated Care Systems, providing children and young people with a single point of access to essential support and resources for managing their mental health.
Accessible via the Liverpool CAMHS and Sefton CAMHS websites, the platform provides users with a single referral form linking to a wide range of mental health services.
The move represents the first time mental health services have been integrated in this way in the UK, replacing a referral process described by users as ‘long, complicated, and difficult to navigate’.
Throughout the project, Alder Hey’s innovation team has worked closely with children and young people, their families, and mental health providers, to develop the Liverpool and Sefton CAMHS platform.
After scoping out the project, in 2020 Alder Hey made a successful bid to NHSX, which allowed the trust to take advantage of an open-innovation framework and user-centred design processes.
By consolidating our mental health support onto one platform, with a single point of access, we are pleased to have been able to streamline access to our services and minimise the stress faced by children, young people, and their families during a time of crisis
Emma Hughes, deputy director of innovation at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust, said: “As a trust, our vision is to build a healthier future for children and young people.
“By consolidating our mental health support onto one platform, with a single point of access, we are pleased to have been able to streamline access to our services and minimise the stress faced by children, young people, and their families during a time of crisis.
“Throughout the COVID–19 pandemic, we have seen a rise in the number of young people accessing mental health services.
“Thankfully, we can now make better use of our resources, while improving the quality of support we provide through efficient referral processes and access to apps, information, and videos at the point of referral.
“We are now looking at ways of expanding our service offering across the entire pathway.”
During the first phase of the project, Healthcare Communications worked specifically on the development of the platform’s referral system, which is tailored to ensure users benefit from greater ownership of their care by allowing them to interact with the service at their own leisure.
As well as providing a single point of access, the innovation also provides users with a consistent digital referral form, as well as a unique identification code which allows them to track the progress of their referral.
When a referral is made, it is triaged by a multi-disciplinary team at Alder Hey within 24 hours, ensuring children and young people receive the right treatment, at the right time.
Over the past few years, the number of people seeking mental health has grown significantly, with the pandemic highlighting the need for more-innovative ways to access care
With two different electronic patient records in use across the region, the new platform intuitively uploads referrals to the appropriate organisation and system.
And, if an organisation wants to transfer a referral, it is done via an automated process.
As a result, Alder Hey estimates that the new platform will release over 1,600 hours per year, saving the organisations a combined total of more than £21,000, while also reducing the potential for human error.
As part of the next phase on the project, Healthcare Communications is developing an eating disorder speciality service, providing patents with the opportunity to rebook appointments, saving the trust valuable administration time and reducing the likelihood of patients not attending appointments.
Kenny Bloxham, managing director, of Healthcare Communications, said: “We are proud to be supporting Alder Hey to deliver first-class mental health referral platform for children and young people in Liverpool and Sefton.
“Over the past few years, the number of people seeking mental health has grown significantly, with the pandemic highlighting the need for more-innovative ways to access care.
From start to finish, collaboration has been at the heart of this project, and the end result is a solution that works for everyone
“Hopefully, this project serves as an example for other care providers, prompting a change in the way mental health services are delivered on a national scale.”
Working with Mindwave Ventures, Alder Hey applied a user-centred design philosophy to ensure the platform was easily adaptable and moulded to the needs of the children and young people using it.
The resource section, which has been clinically validated through ORCHA, includes age-appropriate video content and reading materials.
Katy Edwards, director of operations at Mindwave Ventures, said: “The success of the rollout highlights the importance of involving end-users — in this case, children, young people and clinicians — in the development stages of digital transformation initiatives, and the importance of working together to identify challenges, conflicting priorities and opportunities.
“From start to finish, collaboration has been at the heart of this project, and the end result is a solution that works for everyone.