In Mind: The latest blog from Chief Executive Joe Rafferty includes updates on the Life Rooms and Rowan View

Flu jabs

As Christmas fast approaches, it seems timely to start this week’s blog with a reminder, for those of you who are yet to have their flu jab, to please book in and get it done as soon as possible.

It can take 10 to 14 days for your immunity to build up fully after having the vaccine, so now is absolutely the right time to have yours to be covered over the festive period. 

I can’t tell you enough how deadly this disease can be, not only for ourselves, but those we come into contact with like friends, family and work colleagues. At this time of year when most of us will be socialising more than normal, just think how quickly this virus could spread if we are not protected against it.

The latest data released by Public Health England suggests that GP consultations for flu-like symptoms have risen by 24 per cent in the last week, and none of us want the festive period ruined by our failure to get our flu jab done.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director, said: “Whether it’s missing out on your Christmas dinner, the Boxing Day match or a New Year’s party, nobody wants to be laid low by flu while the festivities are in full swing.

“It’s good to see that more people over the age of 65 have already had their jab. For older people and those with underlying health conditions, getting flu is particularly bad news because it can lead to really serious conditions like pneumonia and bronchitis, which can mean a lengthy stay in hospital.

“We know that children are ‘super spreaders’ of flu, particularly around the holiday season when they’re more likely to see elderly relatives. So our message is simple: the flu season is here, get your jab now. It might be the difference between a Christmas to remember, and one to forget.”

Life Rooms

I’m delighted to share news with you of a particularly exciting Life Rooms innovation that builds upon Mersey Care’s long history of cultural and creative partnership approaches to health and wellbeing.

From 13 January 2020 we start a pilot that will see The Life Rooms deliver its offer from The Playhouse Theatre in Williamson Square two days each week. To be providing our services from this beautiful historic cultural centre at the very heart of the city is a truly ground breaking development.

Through The Life Rooms partnership with Hugh Baird College we’ve already seen the opportunities that can be afforded by health and education organisations partnering together in order to better serve our communities. In this partnership between health and culture we know we will be able to uncover more and more opportunities to meet whole person needs of those we exist to serve.

The many cultural partnerships that Mersey Care has nurtured over the years have become integral parts of the care we deliver and have very real health outcomes. It’s truly wonderful to be able to situate one of our services within one of those cultural centres as opposed to conventional clinical centres. In developing The Life Rooms model we have started to unlock the potential of our community and public spaces in a way that I think is unique.

It’s vital we take our social mode of health to the city centre in order to more effectively meet the many and varied needs of all that city life presents. Through this partnership we seek to expand our reach to the homeless; to students; to BAME and LGBT communities as well as to the many diverse communities living and working within the city centre. We look forward to working with our colleagues at both The Everyman and Playhouse theatres to reach out most especially to individuals and communities on the margins of conventional service delivery.

Rowan View

It’s been a great pleasure watching Rowan View grow so this week I wanted to provide another update of how it is developing. Each week now wards and areas of Rowan View are being handed over to us from the contractors and the site is well on its way to completion and it is on schedule for opening next autumn.

Many staff from Whalley and Scott Clinic have visited our new medium secure hospital and I get regular and positive feedback about the size of the rooms and wards, as well as the quality of the build and the kit we’ll be installing to support immersive environments and virtual reality.

The clinical lead, Dr Frank McGuire, describes the ‘therapeutic premium’ of a state of the art environment, ensuring we give people the care they need only for the length of time they require it, so that they can follow a really cohesive pathway and move on and out of secure care.

Last week I toured the site with colleagues from the secure and specialist LD division. It’s no longer a story about the build – it’s now about the staff, and how you’ll work and thrive there to deliver great care for our service users.

Twitter chat

This week the Zero Suicide Alliance (ZSA) hosted their second Twitter chat, this time about the assessment and planning in suicide prevention. The idea behind these chats is to try to engage the health community and beyond to try to think about suicide and the way we approach tackling it as a society.

Five questions were asked on Tuesday evening that prompted a healthy discussion, which were:

  • What are the signs to look out for which might indicate that someone is feeling suicidal and what can you do to help?
  • What are the key components of effective suicide risk assessment?
  • What are the key components of safety planning?
  • Can you share any positive examples of good practice in assessment and safety planning for suicide prevention?
  • How can we promote hope and compassion in suicide prevention?

The discussion prompted contributions from 57 different people in an hour, resulted in 393 different tweets and reached 2,471,484 people, which is the total number of people that have seen the content.

I was pleased to note that in the word cloud produced from the chat (see below) that words like ‘Person,’ ‘Safety’ and ‘Support’ were all key parts of the discussion when we are talking about how to help someone in crisis.


 Congratulations to Debbie Caulfield, the District Nurse Team Leader at Sefton Road, who has graduated from the Specialist Practitioner Qualification (SPQ) course and has also been awarded this year’s Queen’s Nursing Institute Philip Goodeve Docker Memorial Prize.

This prize is given to the most outstanding District Nursing student from Liverpool John Moores University in 2019. What an achievement!

Joe Rafferty

Chief Executive