Commitment to the armed forces community earns Mersey Care their 'Veteran Aware' accreditation

Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust has become a ‘Veteran Aware’ organisation in recognition of its continued support for veterans and reservists ahead of Armed Forces Day this Saturday.

They become one of only four NHS Trusts that provide mental health services to receive the accreditation for their commitment to improving care for veterans, reservists and members of the armed forces community.

The accreditation was awarded after Mersey Care delivered on several key pledges, including ensuring members of the armed forces community are never disadvantaged when receiving care, training staff on veteran-specific needs, and supporting the armed forces as an employer.

Sheila Hamilton, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Mersey Care’s Veterans Lead, said: “Mersey Care has well established links with veterans groups and reservists, including having a former military hospital from the First and Second World Wars on our Whalley site, and this award recognises a real commitment from our organisation towards veterans’ causes.

“As a Trust we have worked alongside veterans, reservists and their families for some time, welcoming their input and experiences, so we can provide the highest quality care to our veterans’ service users.”

Initiatives introduced by Mersey Care to receive this accreditation include:

  • Introducing additional paid leave for staff to train as reservists
  • The introduction of monthly NAFFI breaks alongside Liverpool Veterans HQ and Sefton Veterans for the local community and staff
  • Development of an annual remembrance event where serving soldiers and veterans come together with local partners with activities for all to enjoy
  • Introduction of a veterans steering group which helps the Trust become more accessible to veterans
  • A veteran aware acute inpatient ward has been established at Mersey Care’s Clock View Hospital which includes specialist training for key staff and each ex-forces patient is assigned one of two designated veteran beds that provide protection from disturbance and noise due to their position on the ward
  • Talk Liverpool, our psychological talk therapy service, asked 96 per cent of clients about their veteran status during the last quarter and offers priority access for veterans
  • Mersey Care’s Criminal Justice Liaison and Diversion Team work with people with mental health issues when arrested or in court and have a dedicated staff of ex-forces staff. Veterans are diverted from the legal system where possible and offered support and follow up from Liverpool Veterans HQ and Sefton Veterans.

Anthony Muldowney, who served 14 years in the army as a chef and now works as Vocational Skills Lead at Life Rooms Walton, said: “Mersey Care is extremely veteran friendly and I’ve enjoyed helping to establish a number of services that ensure ex-Forces are looked after and remain involved.

“We put a conscious effort into offering support and guidance and veterans within the Trust have helped ensure they are able to approach Mersey Care knowing there is a system already in place to help them. Their knowledge and experience is also valued so care is doctored to suit their individual needs.”

Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA) awarded the accreditation today and chair, Professor Tim Briggs CBE, said: “Mersey Care has made a clear and important commitment to the servicemen and women of this country, and it’s great to be able to recognise their hard work through this accreditation.”