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Northampton community mental health service praised by regulating body CQC

A service that helps people with common and complex mental health issues across the county and beyond has been rated ‘Good’ by an independent regulating body.

It is the first time the Community Partnership Service, which is part of St Andrew’s Healthcare, has been inspected by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

The announced inspection was carried out in December 2021, during which the regulator spoke to staff and service users, as well as reviewing care records and all its policies and procedures.

The service provides outpatient clinics, specialist mental health assessments and treatment for war veterans.

It also works with criminal offenders after they have been sentenced, helping them to address mental health issues and behaviour in a bid to prevent them from reoffending. The CQC highlighted that working in partnership was “outstanding practice”.

Catherine Vichare, Clinical Director of the Community Partnerships Service, said: “I’m hugely proud of our team and the work we carry out. We’ve helped thousands of people within the community to better manage their mental health and I’m thrilled that our hard work and commitment has been officially recognised.

“The report highlighted staff, that I’m proud to call colleagues, saying they were ‘discreet, respectful, and responsive when caring for service users’. For me, it doesn’t get much better than that and I would like to thank each and every member of the team for their determination to help those people who need it most within our community.”

CQC inspectors also spoke with nine service users during their visit, and positive feedback was provided from everyone.

Nicola Crookes (above), who served in the Royal Navy for five years, said: “I was only too happy to speak to the CQC inspectors as the Veterans Complex Treatment Service saved my life.”

The 51-year-old from Lincoln said she has suffered for most of her adult life with is complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD), which develops from exposure to multiple traumatic events, but her mental health spiralled dangerously out of control after she left the Navy.

She said: “Initially I was assessed over the phone as it was during the first lockdown and it was the most intense assessment I’ve ever undergone and I had this innate fear that no one was going to help me.

“I started my therapy during the lockdown, every other week, and let me tell you, I would not be here now if it wasn’t for the support and treatment I was given.”

Nicola’s treatment involves a sensorimotor psychotherapy approach which she says can be physically exhausting at times, but extremely helpful.

She said: “I’m taken back to my place of trauma and I am made to physically release the trauma from my body. My whole body shakes and I’ve vomited before. We’ve identified where the trauma starts in my body and it works it’s way up. I violently shake sometimes and it can look like I’m having some sort of a strange fit, but once the shaking calms down, then come the tears and this has been a huge breakthrough as I haven’t been able to cry since I was a teenager.

“This therapy has saved my life and I am so grateful for it – I am literally rewiring my brain and for the first time in a long time I feel safe, well supported and like my life has a purpose. You can never be entirely cured of CPTS but I’m learning how to navigate round certain triggers that before getting the help I needed could have made me spiral and become out of control.”

The service received an overall ‘Good’ rating with areas for improvement identified around the ‘Safe’ domain. But, even before the report had been published improvements were already underway to help meet the CQC’s requirements.

St Andrew’s Healthcare’s CEO Jess Lievesley said: “I’m thrilled at the rating and very proud of what Catherine and her team have achieved. As a charity, we’re focussing on the quality of care we deliver and the Community Partnerships team is a shining example of exactly how a service should be run to support people with both common and complex mental health problems.

“We know all too well the impact the pandemic has had on many people and to have such a valuable service within our community that has now been officially recognised by the CQC should be reassuring to those who may feel they might need some extra help.”


For more information about Community Partnerships, click here.


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