What can we achieve by collaborating with the NHS?
Since I left the Army in 2015, I have worked in numerous roles supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable people and have come to appreciate the need for collaboration across the Third Sector and for all organisations to put the client/patient/beneficiary at the centre of everything they do. - Written by Simon Lock.
Since I left the Army in 2015, I have worked in numerous roles supporting disadvantaged and vulnerable people and have come to appreciate the need for collaboration across the Third Sector and for all organisations to put the client/patient/beneficiary at the centre of everything they do.
I have worked supporting young people within the Prince's Trust to gain confidence and find employment, I have managed an assisted living unit for veterans and their partners who are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless and most recently managed national pathfinders working alongside the NHS. My teams could not have achieved the outcomes for their clients without working collaboratively with many other organisations.
Over the last few years, I have managed a team of incredible staff all over the country who have worked with veterans (and their families) who were suicidal or at risk of being in an acute mental health crisis. The individuals employed by Walking With The Wounded (‘WWTW’) are all experienced professionals who have worked in areas such as prisons, addiction services, adult social or support teams or even other military charities. The team are a mixture of veterans, family members of veterans or the serving community and non-veterans, but they all have experience supporting vulnerable people.
Our ‘In Community Step Down Care’ support teams work effectively with other trusted statutory and non-statutory organisations. One of the most important relationships that WWTW’s front-line teams own is their relationship with the NHS Op COURAGE ‘The Veterans Mental Health and Wellbeing Service’ clinical teams. The veterans who are supported through Op COURAGE show acute mental health difficulties. They often face social barriers such as isolation, debt, accommodation or even lacking in motivation to take control of their life, as well as some mental health and physical health issues. Without the right support care pathway, it can be difficult to help them work through their issues and the social barriers that can inhibit their progress, this is where Op COURAGE plays a crucial role.
WWTW has proven over the last few years that building good relationships and working collaboratively with the NHS clinical teams who trust in what we do, enables us to achieve the best outcome for our beneficiaries. The clinical team focuses on delivering mental health support whilst the WWTW team focuses on social outcomes that create barriers to a positive mental health journey. When a veteran is in an acute mental health crisis, they can also have multiple support needs. The WWTW Support Care Coordination teams act quickly, contacting other agencies and coordinating their needs. WWTW’s non-clinical team works alongside NHS teams to break down barriers and deliver outcomes efficiently.
Furthermore, through working closely with other WWTW team members such as those within our Employment programme, as well as collaborating with other veterans’ charities such as The Royal British Legion, The Army Benevolent Fund and SSAFA, client debt can be reduced, accommodation issues can be rectified, and families can start to rebuild. This collaborative way of delivering support helps create comprehensive long-term support pathways for veterans and their families.
Over the past few years, over 90 per cent of the veterans supported through Op COURAGE have reported that their mental health and wellbeing have improved, and they can manage their feelings and use their time more positively. Overall, across the 10 support areas, (accommodation, living skills and self-care, mental health and wellbeing, friendship and community, relationships and family, parenting and caring, drugs and alcohol, positive use of time, managing strong feelings and a crime-free life), the veterans we helped, made improvements in 6.5 out of 10 areas. These outcomes demonstrate the power of clinical and non-clinical teams working together to support those who served.
Written by Simon Lock, WWTW NHS Business Manager