7 May 2024

Looking after others, looking after ourselves

By Chloe Preston, Improvement Advisor 

Clinical Directors across Bedfordshire and Luton mental health services recently hosted an afternoon session for their staff and service users. They were joined by Derek Feeley, the previous President and Chief Executive of the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI), and Jason Leitch, a Senior Fellow at the IHI and the former National Clinical Director for the Scottish Government. The central theme of the event was to highlight staff wellbeing, promote empowerment, and assess readiness for change. 

Figure 1: Dr Steven Livingstone, Associate Director for Psychology in Bedfordshire & Luton, introducing the concept of Trauma-informed care to attendees

The session was divided into three parts, each with a unique focus and contribution. The first segment, titled “Where have we been?”, showcased a series of presentations that highlighted three successful projects undertaken in the past year. Jade ward, a psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) in Luton, shared their work on improving identification of unhealthy Body Mass Indexes through an equity lens. Their approach involved offering appropriate and tailored education and interventions. Meanwhile, the Bedfordshire and Luton Perinatal Mental Health team has been tackling the barriers that prevent access to their services. They’ve been working together with service users to co-produce ideas aimed at increasing the number of referrals to their service. Finally, the Hatters Health Primary Care team has been focusing on increasing the engagement of Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic service users with severe mental illness. They’ve achieved a significant 40% increase and are now looking towards ensuring quality control and expanding their successful methods to other Primary Care Networks. These presentations underscored the progress within the directorate and celebrate the successful testing and implementation of innovative change ideas. The IHI commended the teams’ dedication to improvement and inclusivity.

The second segment, “Where are we now?”, introduced the attendees to the concept of trauma-informed care. Trauma-informed approaches are ways of supporting people that recognise specific needs they may have as a result of past or ongoing trauma (Think NPC, 2023). A team that is successfully using this approach to enhance staff wellbeing on two inpatient wards presented their work, providing valuable insights and inspiration. The final segment, “Where are we going?”, aimed to empower the staff to identify areas where they could act independently, without the need for additional permissions or resources. This was facilitated through the 15% solutions technique. The attendees committed to their individual 15% solutions, collectively focussing on creating positive work environments, personal and professional growth, and innovation and collaboration.

Figure 2: Attendees discussing their ‘15% solutions’, facilitated by Dr Guy Thompson, Clinical Director for Beds and Luton Inpatients.

Throughout the session, the IHI shared reflections and encouraged the attendees to celebrate their own successes, and view vulnerability as a strength rather than a weakness. They applauded the rapid acceleration in the use of Quality Improvement (QI) methodology since their last visit and acknowledged the shift towards a culture of continuous improvement.

Figure 3: Attendees’ individual 15% solutions

The event marked another milestone for Bedfordshire and Luton’s mental health services, a journey characterised by continuous learning, improvement, and resilience. The key takeaway from the event was a powerful message: to provide the best quality care to our service users, we must look after ourselves and look after each other. This event served as a testament to the dedication to quality care of the mental health services in Bedfordshire and Luton, and their commitment to improvement.



Trauma-informed approaches – NPC. Think NPC. (February 2023). https://www.thinknpc.org/resource-hub/trauma-informed-approaches/ [Accessed 03/05/2024]

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