Children and young people, with emotional wellbeing or mental health needs, are getting the help they need quicker thanks to an ambitious pilot project.
Northamptonshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHFT) says the project – which has been entirely co-designed from the start with children and families – is already reaping rewards and making a huge difference to people's lives.
The Trust’s Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Connect Team has partnered with three primary care networks (PCNs) to help bring rapid assessment, early advice, and care navigation to children and young people in the community with emerging emotional needs.
Emmah Madondo, Bibi Nahaboo James Hickling from NHFT (pictured), are heading up the project. Emmah, a senior CAMHS Practitioner, has worked for NHFT for seven years, the last two years in CAMHS as a Mental Health Practitioner. With James and Bibi, they are working with East Northants primary care networks, Rural Northamptonshire primary care networks and Grand Union primary care networks for one year.
Project in action
A recent case study involved six-year-old Josh. Josh’s mum Katie had called her local surgery asking for a GP appointment to discuss Josh’s behaviours. He was biting and hitting, having meltdowns, sensory difficulties and difficulties sleeping. The surgery booked the family an appointment with Emmah the next day via MS Teams.
Emmah said that it is important that the child or young person is present for the consultation, regardless of their age, so the practitioner can hear their voice directly. Josh and Katie shared the difficulties they were experiencing, and Emmah reflected that there was a need to understand the communication behind the behaviour.
There were certain things that the family had normalised to a degree as they manage their lives, and understanding this helped to unpick the challenges and tactics the family were using to navigate all activities of daily living.
The consultation gave Josh’s mum a chance to explore her worries, and together the family and Emmah considered what was working well. The consultation concluded with recommendations for early support and information about how to access this. The family were given the school and family packs to complete, and offered an onwards referral to community paediatrics.
Emmah said: “The value of the project is that families, who are really struggling, are able to see someone and receive advice, support and signposting quickly. For Josh, the beginning of his journey started with a meaningful consultation that validated the family’s experiences and gave practical help and resources to move forward. This happened within 48 hours of Josh’s mum’s initial contact with the GP Surgery.”
The pilot initiative concludes in July 2024. In the meantime, the project team will continue to work in co-production with service users, and others, to evaluate its success.
To find out more about CAMHS visit www.nhft.nhs.uk/camhs