Living Well UK Open Space, June 2020

Starting 4th June 2020 at 2pm - 3pm

Come along and share your stories

The Living Well team at Innovation Unit is writing to invite you to an ‘open space’ session, on the theme "Towards renewal: stories of humanity and hope".

This session will be hosted on Microsoft Teams - to receive the link, please email

The session is for anyone working in the Living Well sites to come together to share stories, and consider together what possibilities there are for a better future of mental health support, now and in the future, in the context of Covid-19.

The intention of the space is to provide an opportunity for connection, conversation and collaboration focusing on possibility - shared through stories.

The first session will take place at 2.00pm on 4th June 2020 and last for an hour.

A few ‘rules’ of engagement for the session:

  • Anyone and everyone connected to Living Well UK sites is welcome

  • You don’t need to sign up to attend, but if you are coming you need to arrive on time - so that we can start together

  • We will create the agenda together on the day

The sessions will be facilitated by Stacey Hemphill and Siobhan Edwards. Stacey is an Occupational Therapist by training, who worked in Lambeth Living Well and is the Practice Lead for LWUK across all sites, while Siobhan is Innovation Coach for LWUK in Edinburgh, and also works as a freelance coach and facilitator. 

We will hold the session on the same day and at the same time for 3 weeks. After that, we’ll review the regularity and length of the session. 

We look forward to seeing you.

The Living Well UK Team

How the NHS Framework for Community Mental Health Services can help

The most vulnerable and disadvantaged are likely to struggle the most with the social and economic effects of the Covid-19 crisis. This includes people with pre-existing mental health conditions (who are likely to have physical health problems too), people living on inadequate welfare benefits, victims of domestic violence, overcrowded families, and people who are already beset by loneliness. Evidence from around the world shows that crisis brings more misery to more people in these situations.

The question for mental health policy makers is: what kind of system has the best chance of supporting people to live the best lives they possibly can, at a time when the state’s finances and ability to help are at their lowest for a generation? Exhausted by the war effort, where are the seeds of renewal and hope?

Seismic shifts already underway

In the NHS, radical changes have already been pushed through in a matter of weeks. Anxiety about public health and the impact on the NHS has elbowed out long-held policy and practice:

  • Diverting access to mental health support away from hospitals

  • Restricting access - tightening still further the number of people eligible for secondary care, including stopping informal or voluntary admissions

  • Creating single points of access via phone lines - with a direct route into support from the voluntary and community sector

  • Closing mental health wards

  • Creating physically separate mental health A&E departments

  • Merging CMHTs

  • Delivering specialist clinical care and support virtually or in people’s homes

These and other changes could last a generation. Some NHS leaders and managers will not want to reopen closed wards, disconnect Single Point of Access phone lines, or cancel virtual appointments.

The NHS Framework - right time, right place

Some commentators, including campaigning mental health charities, may resist some of these changes, including the closure of hospital wards, and the resulting loss of beds.

But the NHS response to the crisis opens up a set of radical possibilities for improving patient outcomes, as well as making space to ask hard questions about the efficacy of traditional models.

We have an unforeseen but enticing opportunity to take insights, learning and new practices from the current crisis, and weave them into the development of new community models described by the Community Mental Health Framework.

The Framework outlines how the Long Term Plan’s vision for a place-based community mental health model can be realised, and how community services should modernise to offer accessible, whole-person, whole-population health approaches, aligned with the new Primary Care Networks. Published before the crisis (in September 2019), it aims to break down boundaries between mental and physical health, between primary and secondary health care, between health and social care, and between the statutory sector and voluntary and community sector.

The Framework guides the creation of new ‘front doors’ to local mental health systems - a single point of access for risk assessing, triaging and delivery of holistic, person-centred care that draws on the best clinical, social and community support.

People will be able to access person-centred help and support where and when it is needed, without relying on a system of tiers, waiting lists, referrals, hand offs, eligibility criteria, thresholds and repeated assessments.

Fundamentally, it puts the community back into community mental health. It recognises the contributory role that people’s strengths, social networks and wider community assets play in good mental health. People will be supported by multi-disciplinary teams and wider networks of voluntary organisations to co-produce their care plans and contribute to, and participate in, their own communities.

This kind of model is already being developed in Tameside & Glossop, Salford, Edinburgh and Luton - four places that are part of the Living Well UK programme funded by the National Lottery. You can learn more about their work here.

From disruption to redesign and renewal

For mental health practitioners, novel practice, experimentation and risk taking have become key features of life. They’ve had to - repeated cycles of social distancing is making it more difficult for community nurses, care coordinators, psychiatrists, psychotherapists and care workers to follow established protocols for care and risk management. For system leaders, crisis response is already giving way to recovery planning.

Disruptive moments like this can help shine a light on what is working and what is not, on what we want to stop, retain, change and grow.

New community models as described by the Framework are the strategically important place to focus local efforts on recovery and renewal, on radical system redesign for a post-Covid world. They are the perfect place to explore and design new ways to:

  • Enhance the role of communities in supporting more people close to home, including those who might not actually require support from secondary care/hospital care

  • Overcome fragmentation and redesign systems around the person

  • Embed risk assessment, prioritisation and triage within community based multidisciplinary teams

  • Respond more effectively to the intersectionality of social, economic and cultural determinants of health (including financial stress, poor housing and unemployment)

  • Amplify and sustain the countless examples of care, compassion and kindness we’ve seen in the last two months and build humanity into new systems

  • Invigorate a new public mental health narrative around the importance of mentally healthy communities of mutual concern and mutual aid - with local authorities playing a key role

  • Expand and rethink the role of the voluntary and community sector, including in ‘holding’ higher risk patients, and enable it to build effective partnerships as community connectors, social network builders and market shapers

  • Embrace technology as an integral part of service delivery (not just an ‘add on’), for example in finding creative ways of overcoming isolation and loneliness, or in enabling OTs, senior clinicians and peer workers to deliver virtual support fantastically well?

  • Help to rebuild the social fabric and community resilience that has been undermined first by austerity and now by Covid 19.

Innovation Unit is supporting more places in England to learn from the Living Well UK programme as they plan to deliver the new Framework.

We are researching the big shifts taking place in mental health and will soon publish our findings. If you are interested in learning from our work, please get in touch via

Fostering wellbeing during Covid 19

The world is in lockdown. It is affecting our mental health, our wellbeing, our lives. Yet there is also much generosity and kindness. We want to be sharing these stories, understanding that some will be harder to tell, and to hear, than others.

Our programme, Living Well UK, is creating new approaches to mental health systems across the UK and we want to hear from you!

We want to learn about your experience of life in lock down, hear stories of positive coping and support, amplify voices that are not normally heard, and inspire new thinking about how we help to improve mental health in the future.

What you need to submit:

A short video that gives a snapshot of a day in your life of lockdown.

This can include:

  • A bit about you

  • What you get up to in lockdown

  • How you are feeling

  • Your coping strategies and triumphs

  • Observations of hope, love, kindness and humanity

  • Your hopes for how we support each others mental health in the future

We would like to see what you do, rather than hear about it. So why not film yourself whilst you're on a walk, cooking dinner, or spending time with your family.

Who are we?

Innovation Unit is a not-for-profit organisation which works with the NHS, councils and communities across the UK to design better public services. Innovation Unit is running a programme called Living Well UK to create new and better approaches to mental health.

Who can submit?

We are asking for submissions from anyone in the UK whose mental health and wellbeing is being affected by Covid 19, or if you support someone whose wellbeing has been affected, or both!

We would be interested in hearing from you as an individual, as a family, or household if:

  • Your wellbeing or resilience has been impacted by Covid 19

  • You have devised new strategies to support your mental health and wellbeing

  • You support or care for someone

  • You are working in the mental health system

What will happen to my submission?

Your footage may be shared publicly on the web, and social media, either as a standalone clip, or as part of our collective video. We will not use your full name but you are likely to be identified. Please only share if you are happy for others to see the footage, or part of your footage, and hear your story.

How to submit

Send a maximum of 10 minutes of footage to:

Please write your name and contact number in the email in case we need to get in touch.

If the attachment is too big to send, you can share it to our email using wetransfer.

It is OK to send up to 5 shorter videos, rather than one long video.

Submission closes 17.00 on 22 May

Download PDF below

Living Well UK_Video Submission_May 2020

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