Date published: 25 March 2024

IMG_0372.jpgMental Health Care staff hosted an event that focussed on the role of the key worker as organisations move away from Care Programme Approach to Community Mental Health Framework. Attendees were pivotal to discussions, providing many skills and expertise and included: NHS England, local NHS trusts, national experts, service users, carers, integrated care boards, voluntary, community, social enterprise, faith and local authorities.

Andy Williams, Mersey Care’s Deputy Divisional Director, Community Mental Health Services described the main external and internal drivers, including: the NHS Long Term Plan, Community Mental Health Framework (2019), NHSE Community Transformation Roadmap, Trust’s Clinical Strategy, Operational Plan etc., as well as challenges with the framework. It was important to gain an existing understanding of the key worker role at the session and what people with lived experience and their carers would like to see.

Clair Haydon, Clinical Director for Mental Health Complex Care at NHS England gave national context and reiterated the importance of co-production and providing quality care, while Dr Ian Davidson, Consultant Psychiatrist and national clinical lead for mental health adult crisis and acute care, presented on the national specialty report, Getting it right first time. He stressed the importance of, “ … the key worker having access to the right information and the right people – the role must be clear.”

Strategic Carer Engagement Lead, Claire Dutton, talked about carers often being the first to be able to identify changes in symptoms or presentations - care information should be carefully considered when reviewing service user care and treatment options. Even without consent, or where there is only limited consent, staff can listen to carers and hear their views and discuss public information or facts that are already known.

Senior Peer Support Workers, Ed Kelly and Ann Taylor, shared their differing experiences of services and agreed that a key worker will provide a valuable resource within a multidisciplinary team - working in partnership with other professionals, and most importantly, providing a single point of contact for the service user.  

Mersey Care’s journey so far: clarification of roles, pathways, guidance from those using our services etc., and what we’ve learnt about: being open and honest, respecting differences within teams, consideration of skill mix … were highlighted by Becky Taylor, Head of Operations and Katie Taylor, Head of Nursing.

Action plans will be produced for system and services, but with no real definition, this is an opportunity for people working in and using services to define this key role.