In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Raffery writes about a special visitor to the Trust

It’s not every week I can start my regular blog by talking about a Royal visit, but yesterday His Royal Highness The Duke Of Cambridge officially opened Life Rooms Walton as part of a day long tour of Merseyside.

His Royal Highness met service users engaged in an IT tuition class and a confidence-building course. As has happened all too rarely recently, we were even blessed with some good weather which allowed him to venture out into the ‘life garden’, where he met members of the gardening group supported by partner organisation ‘the Cass Foundation’

He also spoke to volunteers, some of our partner organisations and spent some time with the Women’s Addictions Group, before unveiling a plaque which will commemorate both the official opening of Life Rooms Walton and his visit.

While his visit gave everyone at Life Rooms a huge boost, I think it’s also important to realise the good that days like yesterday do in our long term battle to remove the stigma from mental health.

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By having major members of the royal family seen actively campaigning for mental health – The Duke, The Duchess Of Cambridge and His Royal Highness Prince Henry Of Wales are all actively involved in their own campaign, ‘Heads Together’ – it increases the profile of mental health and, in turn, helps others to talk about their problems and get help.

The Duke is clearly very knowledgeable about the subject and expressed an interest in learning more about our zero suicide policy, which we will send on to him in due course. Above all, I believe his visit is recognition of the good work we do at Mersey Care in general and in the Life Rooms model in particular.

The challenge now is to ensure both Life Rooms sites, in Walton and Southport, and the proposed third base in Bootle as part of a partnership with Hugh Baird College, become focal points for the community and continue to provide the skills and knowledge required by service users and carers to prosper.

Liverpool Community Health

I wrote last week about the reasoning and process behind our bid to become the provider for the remaining Liverpool core community services.

This week we have given presentations to existing Liverpool Community Health staff over two days, explaining why we want to bid for these services, and why we believe we are the best choice to benefit patients and staff. The engagement levels were very high and we had lots of interesting and constructive questions to answer

The next stage of this process is effectively a board to board presentation next week to NHS improvement, who will make a final decision between ourselves and Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust as the provider. We should get a decision by the end of September and I will update you as soon as I have more news.

New Addictions Facility

As part of our ongoing commitment to improve our estate, I’m also looking forward to another opening in a few weeks’ time for our newly-refurbished combined addictions inpatient centre in Liverpool.

Staff across addictions and the wider Local Services’ Division have done a great job transforming the service and the fulfilment of that ambition will soon be evident. Many thanks for all the support from Estates and Corporate teams in helping to make it happen.