Skip to main content

Virtual ward success inspires new mental health initiative

The team sat at a desk in an office

People are being supported with their mental health issues as part of a new initiative inspired by the virtual ward service.

The Cwmtawe Local Cluster Collaborative (LCC) has introduced a new mental health initiative, off the back of the success of its virtual ward.

It has replicated the virtual ward model, of having a team working together to manage patients’ care, to help support people with mental health issues.

After starting in Strawberry Place Surgery in Morriston, the mental health virtual ward has built on support available within the surgery through its mental health hub.

Pictured (back row): Cwmtawe LCC’s case manager for Family and Therapy Rachel Butt, the LCC’s business development and implementation manager Debra Morgan, Strawberry Place practice co-ordinator Susan Tutans. (Front row): the LCC’s wellbeing practitioners Sally-Anne Harris and Lindsey Dewitt and the LCC’s complex needs worker Cara Lougher.

It brings together professionals such as well-being practitioners, complex needs workers, social prescribers and practice and cluster staff, as well as colleagues from other mental health and community services, including Swansea Council for Voluntary Service (SCVS).

Similar to a virtual ward, the multi-agency team confidentially discusses how to plan and manage each anonymised patient’s care to ensure they receive appropriate support for their mental health and well-being needs.

Nicola Baxter, Strawberry Place Surgery practice manager and the cluster’s commissioning development manager, said: “The cluster has a mental health and well-being hub based at the surgery.

“We have counselling services, play therapy, a social prescriber, a complex needs worker and mental health and well-being practitioners working from there.

“The cluster has invested in mental health and our hub has been very successful.

“We felt it would be beneficial to bring professionals together and have a mental health multi-agency team.

“The team meets every two weeks and currently supports Strawberry Place Surgery patients.

“We discuss anonymised patients who may have received support from secondary care or mental health services, or who may have been signposted to other forms of support, but still haven’t had their needs met.

“We then work together to try and engage with the patients and signpost them to the right place.”

The team meets to track the progress of each patient’s care discussed, while keeping their details anonymous to reflect confidentiality.

Debra Morgan, Cwmtawe LCC’s business development and implementation manager, said: “Looking at the success of the existing Cwmtawe virtual ward, essentially we have replicated this model to develop a multi-agency team that works together to support patients with issues related to mental health.

“It’s been incredibly helpful for the staff working across the cluster with responsibility for mental health to get together to discuss individual cases and to work out the best way forward for patients depending on their particular needs.

“It helps to make sure we are on the right track and that we’ve done everything possible to support our patients.

“It also helps us ensure there’s a holistic approach to supporting each patient to make sure nobody slips through the net.”

The team also invite relevant services, such as Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) and the stimulant support service, as well as charities such as Mind to the meeting.

Nicola added: “Inviting other services and organisations to attend our meetings can help inform us of other referral routes and avenues of support for patients.

“When we discuss options and pathways for patients’ care, our colleagues from SCVS are very aware of services that can best support our patients.

“They will be aware of organisations that can offer appropriate support to people too.”

Once the team has identified appropriate interventions for the patients, they are referred for ongoing support.

Mike Garner, Cwmtawe LCC lead, said: “This idea has been born out of the fantastic mental health and wellbeing services developed within the cluster.

“This was the next step on from that, in bringing together all of the services.

“After being introduced in Strawberry Place Surgery, we would eventually like to see this in the rest of our practices.”

Sharon Miller, Associate Director for Primary Care at Swansea Bay University Health Board, said: “In addition to this innovative approach, the health board is working closely with Cwmtawe Cluster to increase access to community psychology expertise.

“It is hoped that this valuable addition to the cluster will be made in the coming months, further strengthening the approach.”

People who may be experiencing mental health issues can contact their GP practice for support.

Rydym yn croesawu gohebiaeth a galwadau ffôn yn y Gymraeg neu'r Saesneg. Atebir gohebiaeth Gymraeg yn y Gymraeg, ac ni fydd hyn yn arwain at oedi. Mae’r dudalen hon ar gael yn Gymraeg drwy bwyso’r botwm ar y dde ar frig y dudalen.

We welcome correspondence and telephone calls in Welsh or English. Welsh language correspondence will be replied to in Welsh, and this will not lead to a delay. This page is available in Welsh by clicking ‘Cymraeg’ at the top right of this page.