Little and often and on-demand – how our Flexible Support Service can prevent crisis admissions

About Bridge, Info for Commissioners

Mental Health crisis admissions

For those individuals with long term mental health issues, the road to recovery and successful independent living is not always a linear one. There can be twists and turns along the way and sometimes a backward step or two.

Experiencing a mental health crisis can be frightening and bewildering for both individuals and their families and friends. A hospital stay is often deemed the best way to keep such individuals safe and to provide the treatment and support they need to be able to recover sufficiently to move on. A hospital environment does not suit everyone and there can be restrictions on space, facilities, movements, available treatments, and individuals can remain resident in expensive hospital mental health units for far longer than necessary.

There is an alternative. We can demonstrate the value in providing flexible community-based support services that can prevent the need for an expensive crisis admission, avoid acute distress in the patient and their loved ones, and reduce the likelihood of both relapses and a need for more intensive support in the future.

Our Flexible Support Service bridges the gap between medium support and independent living. The right support that is little but often, and crucially, on demand, can be all that is required to prevent a mental health crisis for individuals at such a critical stage in their recovery.

Crisis prevention: how our Flexible Support Service can help 

In our experience, individuals who have already benefitted from more intensive mental health support typically still need help when navigating their way to independent living.

This may manifest itself as just knowing there is someone to call if they need to or being able to re-connect with a mental health professional who already knows their personal history.

Alternatively, support can be urgently needed by an individual who has been living independently but has experienced a change in their life, and not necessarily a big change, which triggers a situation where without support there is a very real danger of a full relapse.

Our service provides flexible, tailored support for anything from 1 to 20 hours a week for clients living in their own accommodation. This enables independence to be retained whilst still benefitting from the right support they need for their own circumstances and mental health. With each client given a phone number to call should they need it; reassurance and comfort can be derived from knowing support is available on demand. This can be instrumental in keeping a recovery journey on track.

It is not a one size fits all approach and the support provided is not static; it evolves with the client as they do, as they navigate away from medium support towards fully independent living, and is all detailed in the client-owned Support Plan. Clear steps are identified and then ratified by their dedicated support worker to ensure it is viable and achievable, and they work in partnership with the client on each step. This flexible support affords clients the opportunity to experience what it would be like to live a fully independent life but with the reassurance of a safety net.

The power of our partnerships  

We are immensely proud of our professional partnerships from the wider local mental health community; Oxleas NHS, SE London Clinical Commissioning Group, and the Royal Borough of Greenwich teams, comprising clinicians, community mental health teams, care co-ordinators, care managers, and others. These partnerships underpin the success of the service and ensure clients receive the best and most appropriate support possible.

Hand in hand with this, the professional but warm working relationships between our teams and our clients are bolstered by very real bonds of friendship.

Nestled amongst our own flexible support service, a community hub of local mental health resources is drawn upon to avert a client reaching crisis point:

  • Our Recovery College equips its adult students with the personal, social, academic, and practical skills they need to live and enjoy an independent and meaningful life. It also develops the emotional resources they will need to draw on when navigating the inevitable triumphs, challenges and defeats encountered on a recovery journey.
  • The Crisis Cafe in Bexley provides a safe, friendly and welcoming space for adults experiencing emotional distress or a mental health crisis to drop in and get the mental health support and advice they need as an alternative to attending A&E or other urgent services.
  • Self-management is actively encouraged in the first instance by client ownership of their individual support plan during treatment. Upon exiting the service, a resilience pack is provided with guidance on how to successfully independently managing their own physical and mental health with signposts for relevant community mental health services.

Prevention and progression 

Crisis prevention is at the heart of our flexible support service. We can evidence the cost-effective support we provide averts mental health crises for those traversing the crucial path between medium support and independent living.  

Our Flexible Support Service clients typically move on to full independent living and need a lower level of support after less than 12 months, and this can be even quicker if short term targeted support is required.  

At Bridge, we are passionate about providing the right support to our clients, whatever stage they are at in their recovery journey and we are proud of the wide ranging community mental health services we provide to facilitate this. 

Please help us raise awareness about this by sharing this post with your network. For more information about our flexible support service or any of our community mental health services, please visit our website, or contact us. Thank you for your support.   

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  • How you can work with us

    As well as the normal tendering process, you can commission our services in the following ways:

    • Use our contact form
    • Pick up the phone to speak to us on 020 8298 9677
    • Email us to discuss spot contracting OR delivery of a bespoke service that meets your need