Surrey and the Information Sharing challenges

Stuart BoltonStuart Bolton, Engagement Manager 
Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing

As part of their service transformation, Surrey County Council and their key partners are aiming to transform the service that they offer to individuals experiencing mental health crisis and have invited The Centre of Excellence for Information Sharing to support them on identifying and addressing the information sharing challenges across a number of different work streams.

Five days before Christmas, myself and two colleagues from the Centre travelled from our respective bases in Sheffield, Leeds and Leicester to Runnymede in Surrey.   Runneymede is famous for being the location where King John issued the Magna Carta 800 years ago, we were not there to look back on history but instead to look forward and support shaping the information sharing future of services across Surrey.

We had been invited to attend the Surrey Crisis Care Concordat Delivery Group (CCDG) to introduce the work of the Centre and also start the information sharing journey with the Group. The Mental Health Crisis Care Concordat is a national agreement between services and agencies involved in the care and support of people in crisis. It sets out how organisations will work together better to make sure that people get the help they need when they are having a mental health crisis.

In the run up to this meeting we have had a number of other meetings and discussions with a range of different partners involved in developing Surrey’s new approach to supporting people in mental health crisis.  You can learn more about Surrey’s service development and transformation on our local places pages.

Through these preliminary discussions I have been struck by a culture that demonstrates open-ness and honesty about how things work currently, the recognition of the need for change and a willingness to work collaboratively to achieve this despite some of the barriers they may be facing. Being open and honest and recognising the need for change are important cultural aspects to supporting local places on their information sharing journey and through making changes in these areas  service development becomes easier and information sharing is the norm.

One of the challenges was how to get people at the meeting to think about information sharing in relation to working with those in mental health crisis and to think about what the cultural barriers could be for them and their organisation.  The cultural challenges facing organisations could include leadership challenges, ownership or communications. We wanted to use the meeting as a basis to further understand some of the issues as well as learn more about their service design vision. Prior to the session myself and my colleagues, developed a workshop that we could use to support discussions on information sharing and service development at the CCDG.

At the session we presented two case studies of people in mental health crisis who were contacting a proposed new Single Point of Access for support and then asked two questions for people to consider and discuss.  The aim of the session was to look at the perspective of the service user, consider what their expectations and needs would be and start to identify what information would need to be shared to ensure each service user would get the best outcome and support they needed.

The challenges across the different organisations included different terminology used, the skills and experience of staff required to work across organisational boundaries, the shift required for organisations to be able to task each other and how to work when information is scarce or even not available.  These challenges are similar across a number of local places we are working, even though they are looking at vastly different service transformation.

Our next steps are to put together an action plan with the Surrey CCDG that will lay out how we can support them over the next few months.  This will include developing an evidence base of case studies that will be posted on our website which will highlight the good practice, challenges and solutions around information sharing and culture happening across Surrey and their new mental health service provision. I will be updating the developments in Surrey in future blogs and you can view regular updates on Surrey on our website, including resources to aid your organisations discussions about information sharing.

You can use the materials we developed for this workshop, which can be found in the resources area of the site, to help you host your own event.