In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty provides his latest update on Mersey Care's news

Countdown to Inspection

I know my weekly blog has been largely dominated by news and messages in recent weeks about the forthcoming inspection of our services by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). To many of our staff, it must seem like a relentless cycle and they may have forgotten a time when we weren’t either just finishing an inspection or preparing for the next one.

Continual scrutiny can be exhausting, but it also gives us the opportunity to try and keep raising standards and generally appreciating what we achieve. Everyone is so busy with their daily lives and their time at work, sometimes it needs outsiders coming into our buildings for us to notice just what we have achieved.

In another two weeks the main part of the inspection will be almost over, although inspectors can return at any time, so I'm urging staff to let’s use the time between now and then to make sure all our good housekeeping is in order. It’s important we tell our stories - a task you may consider a normal part of your job can easily be regarded as extraordinary by an inspector without the same expertise in mental health care.

The inspection team want to know what our services are like. They want to know if we’re safe, are we effective, are we caring, are we responsive and are we well-led? In addition to asking staff, the CQC also want to hear from people with experience of our care and members of the public with views on what they think of the services the Trust provides. Those interested in contributing to the CQC findings can do so by contacting the CQC via the following link.

I’d like to share two particularly excellent examples of good practice, both of which hail from our Specialist Learning Disability Division. Through working with patients and service users to encourage positive behavioural support and understand the functions of behaviour, they have made major strides to eliminate emergency response belts completely from our care.


The other great example is the staff at Scott House, based near Rochdale, who have established excellent practice in completing complex discharges by working with service users and commissioners. They have also drastically reduced restrictive practices so they can have permanently open doors, allowing service users access to all areas, including the grounds.

They are two outstanding examples of best practice that, as a Trust, we should be shouting about. I’d like to reiterate what I said last week about this – if we don’t shout about our achievements, no one else will. We have also produced a video to remind us all of what we do well with some useful hints and tips, that you can watch here.

Parliament Calling

Mersey Care was this week invited to speak at a prestigious gathering at the Houses of Parliament for an evening of awareness-raising around the role football can play in recovery.

The Mental Health Football Association, which hosted the event, was set up by Colin Dolan as a non-profit organisation that uses and promotes football as part of the recovery process for mental health issues.

Patron of the association is Andy Burnham, MP for Leigh and a former Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, who spoke to the assembled politicians, mental health campaigners, sports organisations and media about his passion for “football therapy.” He believes football and sport is something that should be more seriously considered to help people’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Our partner organisation Everton in the Community, who we fund and work closely with on our ‘Imagine Your Goals’ football programme, spoke to the audience about how the initiative is producing life-changing outcomes to hundreds of service users and their families.

Mersey Care’s Non-Executive Board Member, Matt Birch, told the audience this sits well with our strategic aims – including our ambition for zero suicide among those in our care, to improve physical health and tackle the stigma of mental health through programmes like this and our Big Brew campaign.

“The plaudits for Mersey Care and Everton in the Community were overwhelming. The Trust and Imagine Your Goals were held up as the pioneers of a form of alternative therapy that was saving lives,” Matt explained.

International Women’s Day

There was a hugely successful event for International Women’s Day this week at the Life Rooms, which was so popular it was fully booked up several weeks in advance.

The event featured personal stories of hope, including a talk from a former prisoner now working with the Turnaround Project, and several workshops including personal perspectives from service users and carers and another session recognising our ‘Think Family’ ethos from the young carers with Barnardo’s.

The international event, run under the theme ‘Be Bold for Change’ was opened by Chairman Beatrice Fraenkel. A video of some of the take home messages from the event is available to view here.

Zero Suicide

We have had further interest this week from BBC North West Tonight regarding our zero suicide policy. They thought what we were doing was really ground-breaking and innovative and was far more ambitious than a lot of other healthcare organisations were trying to achieve.


The feature is scheduled to appear next Wednesday, 15 March, as part of a series next week on mental health, although that may be subject to change. 

Having spoken to many members of staff recently about the Trust’s major goals – Zero Suicide, No Force First, improved physical health and wellbeing and a Fair and Just Culture – are reminding staff of why they joined the NHS in the first place. They are challenging us all to providing better ways of working to deliver higher standards of care for all our patients and service users.

And Finally

I was very honoured to be asked to speak at the Asylum Link Merseyside AGM in Liverpool this week. I came away inspired after hearing of the mental health impact on asylum seekers and refugees and gave me plenty to think about. I’m very proud of the work Mersey Care does in this area. 

Another important part of my week was the visit of a delegation from Japan, which included doctors, university staff, social workers and psychiatrists, who made a two-day visit to find out more about Mersey Care. They were particularly interested in our No Force First initiative and, recovery and co-production while we also took the chance to find out more about Japanese mental health services. It’s a great compliment to all the hard work everyone does at this Trust that we are now gaining an international reputation for our work in mental health care.