Mental Health: From being under pressure to developing new models of care

By Rachael Byrne, Executive Director of Care & Support at Home Group

Head-shot of the author, Rachael Byrne, Executive Director of Care & Support at Home Group

We all recognise that the NHS is under resourced. Yet, a lack of money should never be a barrier to change but sometimes can be a catalyst for it. This is certainly the case in mental health where bed spaces are under acute pressure. We need to ensure more people get the most appropriate care at the most appropriate time, diverting them from an often chronic reliance on other aspects of the interconnected health service. A failure to get this right only leads more people to NHS services - like GPs or A&E - which are more expensive and likely not as appropriate, convenient or effective as those the care sector can provide.

That’s why services like Aviary House in Solihull are so important. The £3m building was opened 12 months ago and provides homes for 28 people who each have their own self-contained flats and enjoy the use of communal areas. The service is run by my organisation Home Group.

At Aviary House we support people with severe and enduring mental health issues, with Care Quality Commission-registered support service on site. The aim of the service is to support clients to successfully transition from hospital back into the community. It also contains a four-bed pilot for Solihull’s multispecialty community provider Vanguard “Together for Better Lives” to enable community step up / step down as appropriate to an person’s needs. Staff are on hand 24/7 to help clients lead near-independent lives and offer support when needed.

Since the opening of Aviary House, the local authority has consistently seen improved outcomes for tenants, which has in turn saved the Council money. One commissioner thinks it’s great that many people we support have had their support packages reduced as they’re now doing far more for themselvs than was originally anticipated. It’s also helping the NHS through reductions in medication, and also a reduction in the use of acute services; and the pilot is also successfully seeing a reduction in preventing hospital admissions and reducing delayed transfers.

We all share a desire for better co-ordinated care, an increased focus on prevention and services that enable people to be well and independent at home. This, with as much care and treatment provided in the community as possible. That shift is happening but it still isn’t happening quickly enough. We hope that our contribution at services like Aviary House can make a difference to people’s lives.

Home Group delivers over 500 services which provide care and support services to almost 30,000 vulnerable people each year.

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