A new mental health service called ‘The Lookout’ has opened in Winchester, offering short-term supported housing to people in the early stages of a mental health crisis. The service provides an early intervention, with short-term accommodation and intensive support, for those who may otherwise go on to develop a full mental health crisis.
The Lookout has seven peaceful individual bedrooms, an activity area, shared kitchen facilities and quiet spaces which are now available 24/7 to those in need. The service is being run by Sanctuary Supported Living (SSL) in partnership with local NHS Trust, Southern Health – following a successful bid by the Hampshire, Southampton and Isle of Wight CCG for NHS England funding.
Service manager Laura De Franco explained: “Sanctuary staff include mental health support workers and a peer service support coordinator who work collaboratively with Southern Health clinicians to give people a safe place to recover and stabilise before returning to their own accommodation.”
The service is available for people in need of support for short stays (up a maximum of 28 days). There is potential for people to use The Lookout initially to get to know the service and increase their confidence in using it as part of a crisis management plan in the future.
The Lookout is an important part of the work Southern Health is doing to transform its mental health acute and crisis care. The NHS Trust’s aim is to provide more appropriate places for people to access when they are in crisis, avoiding admission to an acute mental health unit or attendance at A&E. Southern Health local community mental health teams and crisis resolution and intensive home treatment teams are working closely with the new service to ensure its success.
Andy Wilshire, Hampshire Lead Commissioner for Mental Health at the CCG added: “Transforming and improving mental health services is a key priority for the NHS. It is essential that we find new ways of supporting people to cope when their emotional and mental wellbeing is threatened, and this is a brilliant example of just that. We want to commission services where staff can support people at an early stage, before they reach a crisis, and then help them to recover.”
The Lookout is based in Kennel Lane, Littleton (SO22 6PT) and it will work in partnership with other voluntary, community and social enterprise services, such as Wellbeing Centres, to support people once they return home. For more information, email Laura.DeFranco@sanctuary-housing.co.uk or visit Southern Health’s website: www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/about-us/improving-our-services/acute-and-crisis-mh.