Debra Gilderdale, Director of Operations and Nursing at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation TrustIt has been two years since Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust first launched the First Response service, which offers mental health crisis support 24 hours a day, seven days a week to vulnerable people needing urgent crisis support.  This has resulted in people being cared for closer to home, with no out of area placements since the service launched on 6 March 2015.

Before the radical redesign of urgent mental health care in Bradford, patients often had to travel a significant distance to receive mental health care at a time when they were in crisis. Following the redesign of services, patients are getting the help they need within their own communities without having to travel long distances.

Accessed through a single phone number, 01274 221181, people in crisis can ring for help from trained staff, who can identify the most appropriate course of action.

The service is operated by the Trust in partnership with Airedale, Wharfedale and Craven, Bradford City and Bradford Districts Clinical Commissioning Groups, City of Bradford Metropolitan Council, West Yorkshire Police, Haven, a day-time adult mental health service and Sanctuary, a night-time service developed with mental health charity Mind.

First Response has made a significant difference to the local management of crisis care, in particular for the emergency services. Intervening early and signposting to the right services has reduced demand on the police, ambulance services and A&E department and achieved a significant reduction in people detained under section 136 – which gives police the power to take someone to a place of safety.  The Care Trust, council, police and other partners have been national leaders in this area of work as part of the ‘Crisis Care Concordat’ multi agency partnership.

Building on the success of the First Response mental health crisis service and completing the mental health crisis care pathway offered across the Bradford District, urgent care service now includes: safer space which provides a homely and welcoming overnight place for vulnerable children and young people aged under 18 to visit in emotional distress or crisis from 10 pm to 10 am, which is run in partnership with Creative Support, Haven, a day-time adult mental health service, which is open from 10am-6pm, based at the Cellar Trust in Shipley and the Sanctuary, a night-time adult mental health service, which is open from 6pm-11pm, based at Mind in Bradford.

Debra Gilderdale, Director of Operations and Nursing at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust, said: “It is important that we are developing services together with our local communities for people requiring care and support around their mental health.  Urgent care service such as Haven, safer space and the Sanctuary demonstrate what can be achieved by working as a whole system to ensure positive experiences and outcomes.  Our local A&E departments have reported a reduction in waiting times and West Yorkshire Police have reported a 50% reduction in people sectioned under 136, of the mental health act. Officers receive immediate 24 hour access to health professionals, allowing for informed decisions to be made on how best to support people without being placed in custody and ensuring people in crisis get the help they need. ”

Haven, safer space and the Sanctuary have further reduced the number of people presenting at A&E for unnecessary admissions where more appropriate support is available.  Since the opening of Haven in August 2016, 221 vulnerable people have credited the service with providing them with a place to go as an alternative to A&E.

Nick Smith, a Governor at Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust has lived experience of mental health crisis and had his first suicidal thought at the age of nine. Nearly thirty years on, Nick now helps to support vulnerable people that have suffered emotionally or experienced a mental health crisis through his peer support group, which he runs through the Trust’s Champions Show the Way programme. Nick welcomed the opening of Haven in August, which alongside trained professionals has peer support workers and volunteers working at the centre with lived expertise of mental health crisis.

Nick said: “When I hear things about Haven I’m all for it because Bradford District Care Trust and the Cellar Trust already have a distinctive reputation in the community for helping people with mental health problems.  When they said they wanted to set up a service for people in a crisis and they wouldn’t need to go to A&E, because if you are in a crisis – which I have been many, many times, that’s where you go – I thought it was a brilliant idea.”

Haven plays a vital role in identifying crisis triggers early and preventing a crisis from escalating. People in the local area, when they reach out to services for help and support, receive the right help, with kind and compassionate staff at the times when they need them most, without having to attend A&E.

Since the launch of safer space, parents have fed back that knowing the service is available offering additional support has been extremely reassuring.

People in crisis can access safer space, Haven and the Sanctuary via the Care Trust’s First Response Service, Telephone 01274 221181.