In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty writes his blog on the latest news from Mersey Care

I’m conscious that I devoted last week’s blog entirely to mental health. I make no apology for it. Striving for zero suicide isn’t just an aim for our inpatients or those in our care for learning disability or mental health, because through the Zero Suicide Alliance, we want to reach every community and everyone who could be at risk.

Zero Suicide is one of our BHAGS – those Big Hairy Audacious Goals which the Trust has set as its most essential actions. They are visible for you to learn more about on the homepage of the intranet and rightly strike that balance of physical and mental health. They are for all of us, and may at various times apply equally to the lives of all our patients. On day one of their time in Mersey Care, inductees are told that whatever area of the Trust they will work in, the influence of each goal will in some way affect everyone’s practice, everyone’s work ethic and everyone’s focus on the whole patient.

 Our goals are:

  • Zero Suicide
  • Just and Learning Culture
  • Learning from Deaths
  • No Force First
  • Integration and coordination of physical and mental health
  • Pressure Ulcer Reduction.

 I want to speak more about that final one. In community health, we have made a huge effort to reduce one of the highest clinical risks identified nationally: pressure ulcers.

For staff, this is about a holistic assessment of the patient; their mobility, their nutritional status and having full documentation of the wound itself. For the patient, this is about walking or moving within their ability, keeping the area free of moisture but drinking regularly, and also about keeping the healthcare professionals informed.

Not getting this right costs the NHS more than £3.8 million every day. That’s according to a recent NHSi report that around 1700 patients develop a pressure ulcer every month. Pressure damage is one of the highest clinical risks. With the right prevention strategies in place harm can be avoided if we focus on risk management, on education and on good recruitment for the future.

We have a programme to do just this and it is delivering for patients and being widely recognised for doing so. My particular congratulations to Nicky Ore, Tracey Carver and Michelle Gallagher who presented at the European Pressure Ulcer Advisory Panel (EPUAP) in Lyon last week. They have won a Quality Improvement Projects Award which is excellent news.

Pictured (left to right): Tracey Carver, Michelle Gallagher, Nicky Ore.

The award was presented for the continuous improvement project which focussed on pressure ulcer reduction. This work was led by District Nursing Team Leaders Catherine Fox-Smith, Karen Sinnot and Michelle Gallagher, Tissue Viability Nurse. The trio delivered a presentation ‘Striving for Perfect Care – Preventing skin breakdown in the community setting in the UK’.

This was based on the 11 week pilot programme in South Liverpool and Sefton and a number of palliative care patients. Palliative care patients pose unique challenges in pressure ulcer prevention as their care priorities are often focused on quality of life issues. Through the use of a SEM scanner, patients were scanned 4 to 5 times a week.

This enables the district nursing teams to evaluate the impact of including a hand held wireless device to provide objective, anatomically specific data that highlights increased risks of developing pressure ulcers. And for us in our learning culture, it facilitates more informed clinical decision making and the algorithm involved gives detail and precision as to how we support clinicians with pressure ulcer strategies.

 Sexual Health service

It's an appropriate time to highlight our sexual health education service. During September and October the team will be at local university and college campuses to raise awareness of our sexual health and LGBT+ support services and to provide valuable information about safer sex. The team is offering chlamydia screening and signing them up to the Liverpool C-Card scheme.

The team is also sharing information to remind students about the Liverpool walk in centres and access to treatment for minor illnesses and ailments. We want students to know how to stay safe and enjoy their time at university or college, especially those who have moved away from home for the first time.

Pictured above: Nicola Braithwaite from the Sexual Health Outreach team during one of the Fresher’s Week events

Local Services Division

A lot of work has been taking place in our community services division and the redesign of the leadership structures which was one of the strategic objectives in our Operational Plan. The division has now moved from a geographical model to the use of service lines to meet the needs of the people in our neighbourhoods across Liverpool and Sefton. This will ensure our patients receive the same quality of care wherever they live and our staff can be supported as one divisional service. This has been about getting things right for our patients and staff now, but also to ensure they are fit for the future.

 Ministerial visit

 It was a pleasure to welcome the Minister for Health, Edward Argar MP, to Maghull Health Park last week. The Minister visited our preferred site for the new low secure unit following the announcement of £33m for Mersey Care from the Department of Health to build a 40 bed facility.

I also took him around the new medicines management building to see how technology is facilitating more efficient and safer prescribing. It’s fair to say the Minister was very impressed with the Trust’s use of state of the art equipment, both in that building and more widely for the future of patient-focussed secure care.