'Trailblazing' NHS project in East Lancashire could help older people battling against mental illness regain their confidence and dignity

A “trailblazing” mental health project is being tested in three East Lancashire care homes to help offer better care for older people.

Female senior elderly patient with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's holding hands with her carer.
Female senior elderly patient with Parkinson's and Alzheimer's holding hands with her carer.

Mental health hospital patients who are ready for discharge will be supported in a care home for six weeks by social workers, mental health nurses, a residential care team, occupational therapists and physiotherapists before they return home, or to a longer-term care setting.

Currently, patients are assessed in hospital. This new approach frees up the hospital beds sooner and assesses the person in a more natural environment to help identify how independent they are and what support they really need. They will also be taught to use technologies like digital smart medicine cabinets and video conferencing to help them become more independent.

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The NHS Lancashire and South Cumbria Integrated Care Board (ICB) has teamed up Lancashire County Council, and Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust to run the scheme.

Dr Gareth Thomas, Deputy Chief medical officer and clinical lead for the project at Lancashire and South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust, said: “This is an innovative approach to provide holistic care closer to home, allowing people to maintain dignity, helping them reach their potential and retain independence.”

Fleur Carney, ICB Mental Health Director, said: “This is a really exciting programme that is already gaining attention from other areas who are keen to follow our example.

“Our ambition in Lancashire and South Cumbria is that mental health and wellbeing is considered of equal importance to physical health in all of our communities. When people require more support, they should be able to access an effective range of age-appropriate mental health services.”