Suicide prevention training

It’s several months now since we first launched the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) at the Houses of Parliament and gained considerable support from MPs, leading members of the NHS and other emergency services and stakeholders. As I speak we have over 80 different partners signed up in support of the ZSA, including other NHS trusts, mental health organisations, CCGs and private sector organisations.

The ZSA is planning a further event later this summer to try to formulate a more joined up approach between organisations and emergency services. We believe that is the best way to prevent people with suicidal thoughts being missed by the system and ending up as one of the demining suicide statistics.

According to the latest figures available there were 6,639 suicides in the UK in 2015 and we hope the ZSA can make a real impact in reducing those figures. One of our main tools in achieving that is the fantastic training package produced by Relias with expertise from Mersey Care suicide prevention lead Jane Boland and expert with experience Angela Samata.

The free training, which takes only 20 minutes to complete and can be accessed here, has already been completed by nearly 5,000 people but I’d like your help in spreading the word and getting even more people to access it. Please forward the link to your friends, colleagues and family members – we need to spread the training as widely as possible.

Every person who completes the training will be given expert advice on how to spot someone who may be having suicidal thoughts and, just as importantly, it gives really good advice on how to talk to someone who is clearly struggling. There are also some very good scenarios that explain what to look for in different situations.

We are also planning to send out a reminder about the free training to all our stakeholders next week, including GPs, other health organisations, local councils and MPs, but please help spread the word.

Liverpool Community Health

You should all know by now that Mersey Care is the preferred provider for the Liverpool section of Liverpool Community Health (LCH) and, subject to the approvals process, our LCH colleagues will become part of our services on 1 April. We are looking forward to sharing the expertise with our LCH colleagues and I’m sure they will quickly become an essential part of our family, just as South Sefton community services have done in recent times.

Transitional periods like this are never easy and can be unsettling for the staff of both organisations. We have already held a number of engagement sessions with LCH staff and we are planning further engagement sessions with Mersey Care staff starting in April.

Nutrition and Hydration Week

This week has been Nutrition and Hydration Week, a timely national reminder about eating and drinking well. Particularly with Wednesday being Swallowing Awareness Day, it’s important to remind people about dysphagia. As Mersey Care moves to equally emphasise physical and mental health, the symptoms of dysphagia, which are well known especially in the learning disability world, are ones we should all be aware of.

Please set aside time to eat calmly and safely and be sighted on the choking risks when food isn’t eaten and swallowed properly. My thanks to speech and language therapists in Whalley, the wellbeing team and their water campaign, Acton ward staff and estates and facilities staff at V7 (see below)  who all gave prominence to the messages this week.



Collaborative Leadership Forum

This week saw another valuable collaborative leadership forum. As ever, this is a crucial expression of joining up our thinking, listening and delivering the ‘learning’ part of our culture. Our senior clinical nurse for reducing restrictive practice, Danny Angus, spoke to several colleagues around the divisions about how they’ve made innovative changes on their ward and alongside service users. 

As one clinical lead told Danny: “Inviting service users to handover meetings really reduces barriers, incidents are down – it builds community.” You can watch the video here and Danny of course is off to the Palace shortly with a number of prominent nurses. He talks about his work on restraint reduction with Dr Jennifer Kilcoyne and the team on this short film.


My congratulations go to Stephen, a service user in Specialist LD, who recently became the joint winner of the national Derek Russell Award for Outstanding LD Leadership.

The judges were impressed with how Stephen delivers induction, supports Trust service user forums and led the ‘Safety in Town’ initiative locally in Whalley which you may have seen on page 17 of our Trust magazine last Spring. Steven’s also on the judging panel for the National Service User Awards next month.

Joe Rafferty, Chief Executive

Please get in touch: you can email to tell me ‘anything about anything’, troubles or concerns you have, or about things that could be done better.