In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty reaches an important milestone with the Trust. @JR_MerseyCare

I thought I’d start my first blog back from holiday by thanking those people who have written in my absence over these last few weeks. It has been interesting to read about the different perspectives from the different services in the Trust, including Lee Taylor from Specialist Learning Disability Division and Judith Malkin from South Sefton Community Services.

As most of us do while we are on holiday, we relax at first and then start thinking about all sorts of things. One of the big realisations I had during my time away was that I’ve now been Chief Executive of this Trust for five years.

I still find it amazing to reflect and think about everything we have achieved in such a short space of time. My first priority when I arrived was to push through the building and opening of a state of the art hospital for mental health patients, giving them parity of esteem with the facilities on offer for physical health.

We achieved that and more with Clock View hospital and we are excited about our plans to build a medium secure unit on our Maghull site that will set new standards for design and care. We are also on course to build a new hospital in Southport and have further plans to build another on the site of Mossley Hill Hospital in south Liverpool.

The Life Rooms was also a concept that was thought about a lot during my early days with the Trust, so to have two up and running in Walton and Southport is just great news. We also have plans to build a third in Bootle in partnership with Hugh Baird College, which will give us another site where we can offer community services like employment and enterprise hubs, literacy, numeracy and IT skills and a range of courses through our Recovery College.

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If those achievements weren’t enough, we have also made the transformation into a Foundation Trust, and we’ve gone through two inspections of our services by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and achieved improving ‘Good’ ratings.

We have also acquired Calderstones Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, South Sefton Community Health Services, Talk Liverpool and Ambition Sefton. These acquisitions have increased the size and the business of the Trust and ensured a more optimistic future. All this has been achieved while the Trust has remained in a financially stable position.

I’m also immensely proud of the progress we have made with several of our initiatives. Our work with ‘No Force First’ has significantly improved the patient and staff experience and has been rolled out across the whole Trust, our bold decision to publicly commit to a Zero Suicide policy is being noticed nationally and internationally and we have introduced a ‘Just and Learning Culture’ across the Trust..

In my time here we have also committed to the concept of co-production. Every person who joins Mersey Care now has a service user as part of their interview panel, while service users are also consulted on the design of new builds, Trust practices and protocols and all manner of different things. We do so because I believe their experience is vital in guiding us to achieve new standards of care.

None of this, of course, would have been possible without a supportive Board and Executive team, who have all bought into the vision to be the best we can possibly be in everything we do. We call that concept ‘Perfect Care.’

Equally fundamental in everything this organisation has achieved over the last five years has been every one of you that has worked at Mersey Care. I am constantly amazed by the standards of work and desire to improve at this Trust. We don’t always get everything right but we are a learning organisation and I look forward to being your Chief Executive for the next stage of the journey in the years ahead.

World Suicide Prevention Day

Another milestone looming is the second anniversary of Mersey Care becoming the first mental health trust in the country to publicly commit to a Zero Suicide policy. The two year anniversary coincides with World Suicide Prevention Dayon 10 September.

Since then, the majority of our staff have been trained in suicide awareness, giving them a much better understanding if they speak to or meet a member of the public or service user with suicidal thoughts. We have also worked alongside Stanford University to provide data we believe can better identify risk and we are beginning to expand into the business community by providing training to major firms in the area.

It was an ambitious target to begin with and we have never hidden from the fact that it will be a challenging journey, but we have made progress. The first big step in suicide prevention is not accepting that suicide is inevitable, which is an ongoing battle, but it is one we are committed to winning.

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I think a good indication that we are making progress is also shown by how interested the media is in what we are doing. For those of you who missed Radio Four’s excellent documentary on our zero suicide ambition, ‘The Edge of Life,’ you can still listen to it here. It’s a very good representation of the work we do and the  impact it has on those with suicidal thoughts.

As part of the activities to mark World Suicide Prevention Day, it would be great if everyone could join in the Champs Public Health Collaborative social media campaign titled ‘No More Suicide.’ All you need to do is register online here to show your support to their campaign.