22 January 2018

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services learning set using Skype for Business

The communication platform allowed teams working in various locations to connect and share their experiences. Words by James Stafford (QI Darzi Fellow) and Marco Aurelio (Improvement Advisor)

The number of referrals to community Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) continues to rise nationwide, posing challenges to teams across the country. Over the past six months, seven of our CAMHS teams have been working to better understand the movement of service users in their system and how they are using their capacity to meet this demand.  Teams are using a range of tools to think through:

  • The demand and capacity of the service
  • How service users experience the pathway
  • The application of improvement methodology to improve their service

The work in CAMHS forms part of a wider trust priority around improving access to community services. In support of this we have worked with CAMHS teams to establish a learning system to bring teams together to share learning and challenges.

Bringing teams together

One feature of the learning system is a six-weekly learning set which allows teams to come together and connect around their work, with the first one held in December 2017. With CAMHS services being geographically dispersed, we wanted to find a way that everyone could come together and be a part of this.

As a result we designed a part-virtual, part-face-to-face meeting model.  Teams had the option to either come to trust HQ at Alie Street or to dial in to the meeting using the Skype for Business function available to the trust via their nhs.net account.  Once we’d worked through setting up and testing how it worked, it allowed us to easily share content and have meaningful conversations. We were able to connect with around 30 staff across five different sites.

We had a combination of whole-group and local discussions, and considered why this work was important for service users, staff members, and for the trust.  Below are some of the things that the teams talked about:

Teams also thought about how they might engage with service users to get more feedback on their pathways, and think about which parts directly add value. It also provided an opportunity to celebrate the progress they have already made, and think about the next steps for their work.

What’s next?

Using technology to bring people together in different geographical locations felt like a challenge, but was a really powerful way to develop connections between staff across the trust. We plan to use Skype for Business for our future learning sets, the next of which is on 31st January. We look forward to hearing from teams about how the work is going and also thinking about what services users experience while waiting for a service.


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