Autumn Newsletter - Page 8

The IAPT navigation guide
How to measure improvements, James Sharwin
At Mental Health Strategies, we have worked closely with a number of IAPT (Improving Access to
Psychological Therapies) service providers and commissioners to help understand their capacity and
demand using intelligent, evidence-based methodology. Through this work, we have identified a number of
key ingredients which are needed to build long-term, sustainable IAPT solutions including:
Establishment and skills
Training is not keeping pace with the demand for new IAPT staff across the country. And recruiting to full
establishment levels is not a straightforward task, however, ensuring you are competing effectively and
addressing the staff and skills shortage is crucial. Working closely with recruiters and training providers,
offering referral bonuses and schemes which encourage retention and reward tenure are examples of
initiatives that can give a much needed boost to staffing numbers. Most of all, it is important to think more
strategically about how existing roles could be adapted to meet demands for new services.
It’s all in the balance
With national and local targets for waiting times being monitored closely at different levels of the IAPT
pathway it can often seem like reaching all KPIs simultaneously is an impossible task. Ensuring resource
is being focused in the right place is key. Understanding where your pinch-points are can be difficult;
consider any targets that you are failing to meet and any that you are over-achieving and ask whether
different patterns of activity could move this in the right direction. Simulation modelling can allow the
different change scenarios to be dry-run without affecting patient experience.
Data is key
The nationally mandated data definitions and reporting have gone a long way to ensuring that accurate
and relevant data is available. However many providers of IAPT services are still having data quality,
availability and recording issues. Good data is the key to being able to understand the “as-is” in your
services, which will give you the firm footing needed to make better decisions.
Demand is crucial
The adage “if you build, they will come” holds less true for IAPT services than it does for traditional
community and inpatient services; there is a real need to work closely with your sources of referral to
ensure adequate flows of patients into the system to meet access targets. These sources could be through
traditional primary care or GP routes, or by working with less traditional sources, such as care homes, the
justice system or the education sector.
Know your demographic
Comparing the demographic profile of your referrals to that of the underlying population in your catchment
area is an incredibly useful exercise that will allow you to see which demographics are under-represented
in your services. This will allow you to build an evidence based and effective programme of outreach to
your referral sources.
With access targets set to reach 25% of local prevalence, a real term increase of 40% or more (depending
on local population growth) from the current targets, it is very important to focus on getting referrals
through the door.
And finally, every referral counts!
We know that getting the right volumes of referrals through
the door is tough enough. ‘Capitalising’ on referrals that
have entered your pipeline is crucial, ensuring that as
many people as possible actually enter treatment once
referred goes a very long way towards bridging the gap
between the current and proposed access rates.

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