NHS Lothian’s Rapid Response Team is doing fantastic work at the mental health frontline – Hayley Matthews

Hayley Matthews was almost ready to give up as she tried to help someone in a bad place, but then she started dealing with a nurse-led team based at the Royal Edinburgh

Saturday, 28th September 2019, 6:00 am
NT Awards 2018An innovative NHS Lothian team has won a prestigious nationwide award for their work to support older people experiencing mental health crisis. The team, based in the Royal Edinburgh Hospital campus, was the only Scottish team to win an award at this years Nursing Times Award event held in London. The NHS Lothian Rapid Response team the first of its kind when it was set established in 2016, made up of just seven nurses. Their aim was to provide a package of care for elderly patients with mental health conditions that would allow them to be treated in their homes around their families and loved ones in an environment they are comfortable in, instead of being hospitalised.

I’ve had a situation in the last few months that has taken its toll and without sounding too ominous I found getting help and support from social services quite difficult.

I’ve been trying to help out somebody who has nobody and is not in a very good way, it’s been very difficult at times and things have been fragile and delicate for quite some time.

I’ve been trying to tell the authorities that this person needs some help but feel nobody is taking me seriously. I do like to help solve problems for people and fix things – and I’m sure by now that my personality has come through in these articles. It makes me feel better helping others. I’m a total hippy when it comes to saving the world and helping people out.

The situation I’ve been in, trying to step in and help someone and speak for them, has opened my eyes to how difficult it can be to get social services to listen and act and I was almost about to give up. In their defence, I think budgets are tight and staff are stretched.

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But I’m not here to criticise them, instead I am here to sing the praises of a team who seem to have saved the day and are making waves in healthcare. They are the NHS Rapid Response Team, who without a shadow of a doubt are one of the most organised, forward-thinking, helpful, understanding and proactive services I’ve ever been involved with.

I’ve never had to deal with the rapid response team before and if you’re wondering who they are or what they do, they are an Edinburgh-wide, multi-professional, nurse-led community team based at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital.

The RRT has been developed to provide an alternative to psychiatric hospital admission for older people and people with young onset dementia. The RRT can provide intensive support in the person’s home until they are well enough to continue treatment with the Community Mental Health Team or discharged back to their GP.

They also have an incredible vision which plays a huge part in minimising the influx of patients admitted to hospital. They explain more about their goals on their website: “Our vision is that by 2020 everyone is able to live longer, healthier lives at home or in a homely setting.” Between 12/12/2016 and 10/05/2017, [the] Rapid Response Team prevented 103 admissions to acute mental health wards by treating people intensively at home. They focus on ensuring that people get back into their home or community environment as soon as appropriate, with minimal risk of readmission.”

They are basically freeing up beds for those in dire need and boy do they do an incredible job. Their services are precious at a time when mental health and other complications seem to be taking their toll on a lot of people, especially the elderly. Not everybody has a family or friends to lean on and this can be detrimental when coupled with poor mental health, addiction and or illness. If there is no one to turn to then boom – catastrophe can strike!

This is where the Rapid Response Team have outdone themselves and avoided vulnerable and unwell people being readmitted to hospital. I am not surprised in the slightest that they’ve won several awards for their work and that many people who have dealt with them only have good things to say. I’m sure they’ve helped a lot of people in dire situations and will have been pivotal in saving many people’s lives.

Thank you RRT for listening and acting, thank you!