Her Royal Highness, The Princess Royal, visited Plumptre Hall in Eastwood on the afternoon of Tuesday 6 February to learn about ‘invaluable’ new services from mental health occupational therapists who help residents improve their mental health.
Her Royal Highness is the Patron of the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and made a special visit to Nottingham to learn more about the positive impact of the new service during a special event jointly hosted by Nottingham West Primary Care Network and the Royal College of Occupational Therapists.
People living in Nottinghamshire can now access support from mental health professionals without a referral from a GP. Mental health occupational therapists are clinically trained and work with people of all ages to find holistic personalised, practical solutions to everyday challenges.
In Nottinghamshire, mental health occupational therapists work from general practice surgeries and get involved with local community groups to identify and address mental health needs early on. This new service is available across Mid and South Nottinghamshire to residents registered with a GP surgery in Hucknall, Gedling, Broxtowe, Mansfield Town and South Mansfield, and North Ashfield.
Catherine Seals, Mental Health Occupational Therapist for Nottingham West Primary Care Network, invited The Princess Royal to launch a new group-therapy choice for residents that promotes conversations about mental health and offers practical, personalised steps to help keep well.
Residents of Broxtowe met with Her Royal Highness and talked about using the service to manage their daily routines and achieve personal goals. Paul Cooke, 36, a father of three from Giltbrook and engineer at Rolls Royce, described his experience of therapy with a mental health occupational therapist as “a breath of fresh air” and explained how working with Catherine “helped me align more to my old self.”
The Princess Royal heard how mental health occupational therapists focus on how mental health may be affecting a person’s daily life, help people identify their goals and break down barriers to achieving them.
Local health care staff invited Her Royal Highness to explore the different techniques used to empower patients to manage anxiety and mood, regulate emotions, develop motivation and interest levels, and renew their interest in hobbies and important roles within life.
Sir John Peace, Lord Lieutenant of Nottinghamshire was part of a group of local dignitaries, who, together with representatives from the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and NHS Nottingham leaders, saw for themselves how occupational therapists design services that improve care within communities.
People working behind the scenes and within the community were on hand to demonstrate how new services are joined up with the wider health and social care network so residents receive the right care, at the right time, from the right person.
Nottingham West supports a collaboration of 12 GP surgeries within Broxtowe, and was one of the first Primary Care Networks in the country to employ mental health occupational therapists. Nottinghamshire leads the way in creating new services within primary care due to an effective partnership between 11 Primary Care Networks, including Nottingham West, and Primary Integrated Community Services (PICS), a local healthcare organisation run by GPs.
Catherine Seals, mental health occupational therapist for Notts West PCN, explained “We’re thrilled Her Royal Highness chose to visit us in Eastwood and see how improved mental health enables people to be more independent and feel more in control of daily life. Occupational therapists play an important part in the delivery of health care. Post pandemic, my colleagues in the profession have played a significant part in the rehabilitation of health communities. We’ve done this through multi-disciplinary working and being supported to design services that meet the needs of our residents.”
Odeth Richardson, Chair, and Steve Ford, Chief Executive, of the Royal College Occupational Therapists were joint hosts for the event and helped welcome Her Royal Highness. Odeth said, “Mental health problems are becoming more and more prevalent every year, particularly since the Covid pandemic. Services like this are essential for providing the support communities need to help prevent crises developing. Occupational therapists provide diverse expertise to primary care teams, helping patients get fast access to the right care. But very few GP practices have occupational therapists, and that needs to change fast. That’s why we want to see more occupational therapists in GP practices and other community settings. Just like we’ve seen today in Nottinghamshire. Only then can we start to focus on prevention and early intervention.”
Dr Kelvin Lim, GP of 32 years at Eastwood Primary Care Centre, said “Today, the spotlight has been on the pioneering approach of occupational therapists and their passion for giving good care to their patients. Nottinghamshire is one of the first areas to utilise the mental health skills of the occupational therapist. I believe our spirit of innovation comes from the strong relationships we’ve forged over decades between the citizens of Broxtowe and professionals in physical, mental and social health. Eastwood folk have inherited the qualities of self-reliance, community spirit and care for all members from its mining past, and evidence of that has shone through today.”