In Mind: Chief Executive Joe Rafferty provides his latest update on awards and an important partnership in Bootle

It’s not often I can start my weekly blog by celebrating three awards for Mersey Care, but that’s just what happened last night at events to celebrate excellence in healthcare value and people management.

Our Executive Director of Workforce, Amanda Oates, was recognised as HR Director of the Year at the Healthcare People Management Association Excellence Awards, while Mersey Care received their social partnership working award for our implementation of Just and Learning Culture alongside our staff side colleagues. 

Mersey Care were also a finalist at the same evening for the Learning Award for Education, Learning and Development Initiative.

While they were celebrating in London, Executive Director of Communications Elaine Darbyshire was with Dr Jennifer Kilcoyne, Danny Angus and several excellent ward leaders in Manchester where they received the Health Service Journal's Value Award for Communication for our No Force First staff engagement.

What an excellent evening’s work it was for Mersey Care – it represents the success of some of our most important current BHAGs for staff and service users. 

Mersey Care has also enjoyed another success this week with Clock View winning the Innovations in Practice Learning award for their nurse mentorship pilot at the Edge Hill University Faculty of Health and Social Care awards.

I'm proud of all who contributed to us leading the field in these areas: developing our Just and Learning Culture, changing the approach to restraint in secure services, in our communications and workforce teams and to Amanda as Director of the Year.

I’d also like to congratulate the Life Rooms, who have been shortlisted in the Innovation in Mental Health Care category for the Healthcare Transformation Awards.


Student welfare

This week I was delighted to attend the ground breaking ceremony for a new state of the art health, social care and mental health training academy and Life Rooms, which is being built in partnership with Hugh Baird College on the site of the former St Winefride’s Roman Catholic Church in Bootle.

Those who know the area will know the church was derelict and, once the construction is completed, it will house the new Life Rooms that will provide leading mental health training, support and a recovery service for the 5,000 students aged between 14 and 25 at Hugh Baird.

This will give young people the skills to be able to manage their own and their friends and family’s mental health and will teach them valuable skills to support sustainable mental good health for life.

Alongside the Life Rooms will be the new Centre of Excellence, which will ensure we have the very best apprenticeship support for the young people as they leave Hugh Baird. This will give the young populations of South Sefton the best chance of a job or career which will build their financial and social stability and give them the very best start to their working life.


We will also be working alongside Hugh Baird with the launch of combined mental health and apprenticeship services that we are working together to deliver and hopefully ensure Sefton has the very best skills and talent to be able to support a growing and vibrant economy. We look forward to working with the inward investment team on developing the right skills to match the aspirations of Sefton Council and the City Region in the future.

A huge thanks has to go to Michael Crilly and his team at the Life Rooms alongside our Business Development team for getting to this point. I’m also very grateful for the support given by Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram and Luciana Berger MP, who helped secure a £3.9 million Local Growth Fund grant provided by the Liverpool City Region Combined Regional Authority through its Single Investment Fund.

 Those funds will be used to transform the main church into the training hub, which will include a mezzanine and café area, and will be a base for levels 1 to 6 health, social care and mental health training. The Life Rooms will also be built on the footprint of the current presbytery, which will deliver courses that provide practical life skills and become a community hub.

The new centre of excellence will be redeveloped via an additional £200,000 contribution from Health Education England, which will contain a flexible learning and training space for Mersey Care employees and other NHS trusts.

I don’t think it’s overstating when I say this is one of the most important developments Mersey Care is undertaking. There’s much talk about the need for prevention of ill health, be it mental or physical, and as often as not a debilitating combination of both. For young people this can affect their educational attainment, their relationships and, therefore, their overall life chances. The success of our two other Life Rooms sites has shown it is a socially affirming model that can provide real support at a crucial time in students’ lives.

To put it all into context, I was told that Hugh Baird reported a 200 per cent increase over the last 12 months in college learners aged 14 to 18 providing a mental health disclosure at enrolment, which identifies a real need among that sector of the population to access services before their issues develop into serious illnesses.

The new project aims to be operational later this year and I will, of course, keep you updated with developments. Alongside our plans to build a state of the art medium secure unit at Maghull Health Park, it promises to be an exciting year for Mersey Care and services it offers to the people of Merseyside.