Leeds ‘aspire’ – A service providing engagement, hope and recovery

Case study summary

The Leeds EIP service, ‘aspire’, is aimed at young people aged 14–35 who are experiencing first episode psychosis. The key principles of the service are engagement, hope and recovery. The service, which is delivered by Community Links, is a rare example of a third sector provider. While allowing increased flexibility and creativity, this also introduces new challenges such as the ease of accessing NHS infrastructure (including informatics and pathology).

 

The Leeds EIP service, ‘aspire’, is aimed at young people aged 14–35 who are experiencing first episode psychosis. The key principles of the service are engagement, hope and recovery. The service, which is delivered by Community Links, is a rare example of a third sector provider. While allowing increased flexibility and creativity, this also introduces new challenges such as the ease of accessing NHS infrastructure (including informatics and pathology).

The service is currently meeting the referral to treatment element of the new access and waiting time standard. Monitoring, which occurs on a regular basis, is being improved through the expansion of monthly data checks. This will include formalised criteria for auditing when NICE-recommended care begins. Although a range of interventions are available, the service is not currently resourced to provide these to the full caseload. A recent audit suggested that while 65% of people on the caseload would seek specialist psychological therapy, only 25% have been able to access it.

There is a strong commitment to collaborative work to improve referrals and access to care (40% of service users have a duration of untreated psychosis of less than three months). Working relationships have been established with a range of internal and external sources, including the local NHS trust, acute services, CAMHS, the police and voluntary youth organisations. As part of this, increased effort is being made to connect with hard-to-engage communities. In an attempt to address the diverse needs of different groups, the service has specialists who work with the south-east Asian and African/African-Caribbean communities (the two largest black and minority ethnic groups in Leeds) and from the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities.

‘aspire’ also promotes involvement and social recovery through a support, time and recovery worker and offers social goal-orientated events. Since 2012, ‘aspire’ has achieved this for 77 of its service users, with 38 currently in permanent positions.

The service also places a strong emphasis on healthy living. Service users have access to a bespoke healthy eating plan. There is regular input from a consultant psychiatrist to ensure that monitoring is in line with the Lester tool.

Training to ensure the provision of NICE-recommended care

  • All care coordinators have weekly peer supervision groups, which are alternately facilitated by a clinical psychologist and a systemic family therapist.
  • The therapists in the team provide regular training and individual consultation for psychological and other family interventions.
  • A proportion of care coordinators have completed training in psychosocial interventions, CBT and systemic family interventions. One care coordinator is about to become a qualified family therapist and another will soon qualify as a CBT therapist.
  • Two members of staff are trained in nutritional/healthy living interventions and in-house training is being set up for all other care coordinators.
  • Some staff members are also trained in dual diagnosis/motivational interviewing, completing level 2 and level 3 modules provided by the local specialist addiction services in partnership with Leeds University.

For further information please contact:

Fiona Ball
Aspire Team Leader
Email: fiona.barber@commlinks.co.uk

Emma Carpenter
Aspire Team Leader
Email: emma.carpenter@commlinks.co.uk