HSE Mental Health Service Improvement Programme

To transform how mental health services are planned and delivered, HSE Mental Health took an innovative step three years ago to establish a mental health service improvement programme, writes Yvonne O’Neill.

Yvonne O'Neill
Yvonne O’Neill

In 2015, HSE Mental Health joined forces with the Centre for Effective Services (CES), who work with government and agencies to support the development of effective services.

A Programme Management Office and a Mental Health Change Board were established. The Change Board consists of senior managers from Community Health Organisations (CHOs) and National Mental Health. This group authorises all Service Improvement Projects including the releasing of appropriate resources for implementation.  Service improvement leads were employed to lead and project-manage priority service improvement projects. Two years into the process, any initial scepticism around the approach has been replaced by growing ownership across the service.

HSE Mental Health joined forces with the Centre for Effective Services (CES), who work with government and agencies to support the development of effective services.

Taking an evidence based approach to change and project management has helped introduce new ways of working to Mental Health and sustain developments. There are a number of elements that have been critical to implementing change:

  • Service user is critical and is at the heart of service improvement with a consistent focus on the development of recovery-focused services through co-production
  • Good communication across the mental health service and the HSE is particularly important as the service establishes new roles, structures and processes. The process is inclusive of clinicians, service planners and service users as everyone in the organisation has a part to play in service improvement.
  • Effective governance is also a key feature for successful change initiatives.
  • Building change management capacity across the organisation is vital. The partnership with CES has been very successful and they have been supportive in developing the HSE Mental Health project management methodology, providing training and ongoing support for staff so that they can plan, implement and close their projects.

There are currently twenty-eight live projects in the Mental Health Change Board portfolio with eight projects closed in the last two years.

Some of the closed project now in implementation include:

  • The Best Practice Guidance for Mental Health Services,
  • A National Framework for Recoveryin Mental Health,
  • Standardised management of new-referred appointment Did Not Attends in community mental health setting.

Projects currently under way include:

  • Developing Weekend Community Mental Health Services in Ireland,
  • Review of the CAMHS Standard Operating Procedure (SOP),
  • Mental Health Intellectual Disability (MHID) Programme,
  • Mental Health Workforce Planning,
  • National Peer Support Worker Implementation,
  • HSE Best Practice Guidance for Suicide Prevention Services.

Projects that have recently commenced include:

  • Future of Mental Health Stigma Reduction Campaign,
  • Developing Digital Mental Health Supports in Ireland,
  • Choice and Partnership Approach (CAPA) in CAMHS.

It is hoped to build on this Service Improvement approach as we move into news way of working across all community services and the current Vision For Change policy in mental health is updated. This process will support an integrated model which aligns with the HSE plan for Strategy & Planning, Operations and Clinical areas  to come together to apply a structured approach to sustainable service improvement.

Yvonne O’Neill, Head of Performance, Contracting and Improvement in Community Operations, HSE.