About the network

The accreditation scheme is an initiative from the Royal College of Psychiatrists Centre for Quality Improvement. It aims to help community mental health services in the UK to focus on and improve quality of care, as well as awarding accreditation to services that meet sufficient standards.

It involves a process of self- and peer-review against our standards, the results of which will be reviewed by a multidisciplinary committee. The standards have been developed in conjunction with a panel of experts in community mental health services, including service users.

On average it takes six to nine months from the start of the registration process to become accredited, and this includes three main components: self-review, a peer-review visit and an accreditation decision.

ACOMHS use the following questionnaires as part of the process for self-review data collection:

  • Service User Questionnaires
  • Relatives, Friends and Carers Questionnaires
  • Staff Questionnaires
  • An Audit of Case Notes
  • Referrer Questionnaires.

All ACOMHS member services are provided with survey links in order to complete ACOMHS questionnaires online. Questionnaires for service users, relatives, friends and carers, and referrers are also available as paper-based copies.

The information is collected on our information gathering system called CARS. ACOMHS member services can log into CARS at any time during the self-review period to complete their self-review workbook (i.e. to rate themselves against each of the quality standards), monitor survey returns and download information related to the service.

As part of the accreditation process, each service receives a peer review visit from a team made up of clinical staff from other member services, as well as a service user and/or carer representative and a member of the ACOMHS team. This is a one-day visit which normally takes place within three months of the completion of the self-review process.

Who are we?

ACOMHS: Accreditation for Community Mental Health Services is a network of community services across the UK. Member services are supported to improve the quality of the service that they provide against a nationally recognised set of standards. The backbone of the network is peer review and accreditation but member services are also able to benefit from specialist events, publications, and the knowledge and experience of peers.

National Standards

Standards used within the network are designed specifically for community mental health services. They are developed in consultation with frontline staff, managers, patients and carers and are aligned with NICE guidelines, CQC regulations. Participating members are able to demonstrate that they are working towards and achieving these measures, as well as our wider standards, while showing their commitment to quality improvement.

What do we provide?

We provide opportunities for networking, tools for self -assessment and we facilitate peer review visits between member services. These visits are a key element of both developmental and accreditation processes. A peer-review team review evidence provided by the service to assess whether they meet the standards. Those meeting the required level are accredited by the Royal College of Psychiatrists.

The network allows services to create a learning community, where they share and benefit from best practice and updates in the field. It enables staff to regularly consider ways to improve the quality and efficiency of their work and the care that they provide.

If you would like further information or would like to discuss ACOMHS, please contact the team on 020 3701 2658 or email acomhs@rcpsych.ac.uk.

For more information about how the CCQI handles data please read the College  privacy notice.

The accreditation process documents explains how the scheme works, including a timeline.

  • If you work in a UK community mental health service for adults, then your service is eligible to join the programme. 
  • The standards focus on the core functions of a community mental health team. This means that both working-age adult teams and specialist teams such as those for older adults, rehabilitation, forensic, and so on, can join the programme. However, at present ACOMHS is not able to review the specialist aspects of such teams, just the aspects of community working which are common to all community mental health services.
  • If you work in an Early Intervention in Psychosis service, please see the Early Intervention in Psychosis Network (EIPN).

Please note: As part of the assessment process, we will review your staffing and processes and therefore if you work in a service that includes multiple teams, we will assess each team separately. 

If you are unsure whether your team counts as a single or multiple, please contact us.

The programme runs on subscription fees from members; therefore there is an annual subscription fee for each service wishing to participate in the programme.

The cost of the programme is £2300 + VAT per service, per year.

Please note: The subscription fee applies per team or per service as individual teams/services will each be reviewed separately. Therefore if you have multiple teams or services in your Trust they will each need to sign up separately. If you are unsure as to whether your service qualifies as single or multiple services, please contact the ACOMHS team before subscribing.

The College Centre for Quality Improvement is cost-neutral, so the majority of your subscription fee goes towards the cost of organising your peer review visit and other benefits such as free training and forum events; the rest is used in administration of the process.

Get in contact to receive further information regarding a career in psychiatry