In Mind: How the Life Rooms model is helping our communities

Every year is a busy one, and this one is no exception, so I hope if you’re preparing for holidays, you are able to enjoy the rest and the family or free time. The same applies to Joe Rafferty, so in his absence, I am very pleased to have been invited to write this week’s blog.

I know that Joe often mentions The Life Rooms, where I am based, in his blogs. Having just pointed out how busy we all are, I am also aware that perhaps not everyone fully knows what the Life Rooms are actually all about. I’d like to use this week’s blog to invite each of you to reflect upon what it might be able to do in the places in which you live and work.

I’ve been a part of Mersey Care for almost nine years now and in all that time I have never really met anyone who wakes up with a burning desire to access services!

I’m proud to say that every day I meet people who care passionately about the need for high quality services there to support people when they need them but I’ve never met anyone who wanted services to be their final destination. For me, the things people really want are somewhere to live; something to do, and someone to love – in short they want a life that is their very own. That shouldn’t really be a surprise to any of us as it is pretty much what I think we all are after. We may approach that from different perspectives and from different starting points but it is pretty much common to us all as human beings.

Our Trust’s aspiration to deliver Perfect Care and services of the very highest quality are essential in enabling people to find life. Our focus on integrating physical and mental health care is all about people finding life; the original vision for our 70 year old NHS is all about life. In this context it has been quite natural for us as an organisation to look at how our service users, their families and carers and also our staff can discover and enjoy a life beyond diagnosis; beyond services; beyond Mersey Care.

For us, a significant response to this human reality has been the development of the Life Rooms; first in Walton, then in Southport and later this year in Bootle. In the coming year we aspire to extend this to South and Central Liverpool, and crucially across our Secure Services as well.

 

Our Life Rooms make a powerful statement by being situated at the heart of communities and open to all. Whilst the philosophy above underpins them all, each one develops and reflects the individuals, groups and communities using the space. The Life Rooms offers practical community resources for groups and individuals, in addition to wellbeing support as well as opportunities around the social factors that can impact life such as housing, employment and money matters.

The Life Rooms also brings together partners across the voluntary, statutory and private sector in order to provide a range of non-clinical opportunities for advice, support, learning and self-development. This helps to deliver further integration between health and social care in the creation of a more responsive and efficient wider health community. It empowers the individual to look for solutions to social problems before a crisis occurs that might affect their physical or mental health.

A key feature of our work rests in creating opportunities for service users to learn about their own health and wellbeing. This helps them to make simple changes so as to build a life that fulfilling, connected, enjoyable and ultimately healthy. Interestingly, our evaluation of the Life Rooms demonstrates impact both in terms of people moving beyond services as well as a means of preventing people needing to access services in the first place.

Whatever part of the Trust you find yourself in I’d like to encourage you to look at our website and think about how this philosophy and model might relate to you, your service and your community. If you’d like to find out more, have ideas, or want to explore how we could better work with you across both physical and mental health settings I’d like to ask you to get in touch.

This week saw a record turnout at our trust Annual General Meeting at Aintree Racecourse. It was great to see so many people engaged with the trust and to reflect upon this busy year. It was particularly pleasing to hear about the substantial investment in new buildings at Southport and on the Maghull Health Park, in no small measure due to the sound financial position of the organisation. 

 

It was also particularly good to see our community health colleagues formally welcomed in to the Mersey Care family. I was so proud that as we did so, we did it in the context of our journey towards an increasingly just and learning culture which is so central to ensuring that we are the best we can be.

I hope that each of you gets time out this summer to rest; to spend time with loved ones; to have fun and to reinvigorate the life each of us deserves.

Michael Crilly

Director of Social Inclusion and Participation