Why focus on home treatment teams?
It is estimated that 1 in 4
of us will suffer from a mental illness in our lifetimes.
In the past,
people experiencing an acute episode of mental
illness were admitted to acute inpatient wards to receive
This is necessary in some
cases, but in others the person with the illness, their
families or carers may feel that they would rather be
supported at home.
If treated in the community, any social stressors which might have
contributed to the episode of acute mental illness are more
apparent than they would be if the person is removed from
their social environment to a hospital.
Without addressing social stressors, the person may return from
hospital to the same situation and relapse.
Treatment at home enables a more holistic approach to the person's
health and their social support systems, and avoids some
of the stigma which may come from admission to an acute
The introduction of Home Treatment services was one of the key
elements in the 1999 National Service Framework for mental health;
the NHS Plan (2000) made the provision of home
treatment services a national priority; and the Department of
Health’s 2002 Public Service Agreement included targets both for
the number of teams and the number of people treated.
The primary functions of these teams are to:
- provide an alternative to acute inpatient care
- provide a service that responds rapidly, and is intensive and
- gatekeep acute inpatient beds to prevent admission of people
who could be treated in the community
- support early discharge of people who are admitted to acute
The Royal College of
Psychiatrists Centre for Quality Improvement already hosts numerous
other successful accreditation programmes for mental health
services, and was approached by the Royal
College of Psychiatrists General and Community Psychiatry
Faculty to set up an accreditation scheme for home treatment
It is designed to complement
the Accreditation for Inpatient Mental
Health Services (AIMS).
Why accreditation is important
- Home treatment teams formed an
integral part of a comprehensive mental health service as defined
by the National Service Framework for Mental Health (DH 1999), and
of the acute care pathway. (Acute Care Declaration, DH, 2009)
Our accreditation scheme can support services to improve
and demonstrate the quality of care they
provide to service users and carers, their wider organisation and
- The standards provide a
guide to the functions of a home treatment team, as well as
supporting teams to achieve accreditation, which can help to
protect services from dilution
or amalgamation. Accreditation has been shown
to help services gain the resources they
Implementation of teams was overseen by the
National Institute for Mental Health England (NIMHE) and, latterly,
the National Mental Health Development Unit (NMHDU). Since NMHDU
ceased to exist, monitoring and ongoing development has been seen
as the remit of local services. HTAS aims to provide
quality monitoring and improvement as a nationwide
scheme, allowing sharing of knowledge between home
treatment teams across the UK.
Information gathered through the accreditation
process can be used in Trust quality accounts, as
recommended by the National Quality Board.
Benefits of the accreditation process
- A wide range of stakeholders
are involved, including staff from all professional
backgrounds, service users and their carers and our partner
support: Services are supported to identify and address
areas for improvement.
- Active on-going
network support: Members are supported to share best
practice, seek advice and pool learning through a regular
newsletter, email discussion group, annual conference and
publication of resources on a member-only website.
- Sharing good
practice: Services are engaged with a network of
peers, enabling sharing of good practice and providing a forum for
advice and information sharing.
development: Individuals can receive training in
peer reviewing and are able to visit another home treatment team(s)
as part of the review process.
- Spread of learning
within the organisation: Learning and innovations
arising from the process are often spread beyond the participating
service to other services within the organisation.
- Benchmarking and trend
analysis: We produce an annual national report
enabling services to benchmark their own performance against other
services, and to identify trends in service provision.