Half a million pounds awarded to evaluate new NHS mental health and wellbeing services, ‘Resilience Hubs’

£474,380.60 has been awarded to fund a 20-month research project to evaluate new NHS staff mental health and wellbeing hubs.

The study, sponsored by Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust (GMMH), and led by researchers at The University of Manchester (UoM) and Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU), will look at how well the original Resilience Hub model works for providing mental health support to healthcare, social care and emergency service workers who have been impacted by COVID-19.

Findings will inform recommendations for effectively rolling out the Hubs across the UK, and will help us understand how we can use the same model in other future largescale crises.

The study is one of a number of COVID-19 studies that have been funded by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) as part of its Recovery and Learning call, totalling £5.5m in funding, to help better manage current and future waves of the COVID-19 pandemic and investigate its long-term impacts on the health and care system beyond the acute phase.

The 20-month research project will evaluate the Resilience Hub model in three regions: Greater Manchester, hosted by Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust (Pennine Care); Lancashire and South Cumbria, hosted by Lancashire & South Cumbria NHS Foundation Trust; and Cheshire and Merseyside, hosted by Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust.

The Greater Manchester Resilience Hub was originally set up in response to the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing, to provide care and support for thousands of people whose mental health and wellbeing was affected.

Many healthcare workers, social care workers, such as Care Home staff, and emergency service staff have experienced mental health problems due to the stressful circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Resilience Hub model has now been adapted to provide mental health support to them throughout. This has been replicated in multiple UK sites to meet the mental health needs of key workers affected by the pandemic.

Yvette Hodge, an occupational therapist assistant for Pennine Care NHS Foundation Trust, turned to the Greater Manchester Resilience Hub as a source of support:

“I contacted the Resilience Hub and completed their wellbeing questionnaire. One of their therapists then contacted me and I just poured everything out to them – all my anxieties and worries

“The support and advice has really worked for me – I’m able to think about the here and now and take things step by step; rather than letting things overwhelm me.”

The research will assess how well the Hubs can support key health and social care workers who have been affected by COVID-19 across the three locations, and produce recommendations for effectively rolling out the Hub model across the UK.

Longer term, findings will help inform guidelines for using the model in any other future largescale crises, and will help us understand which groups have higher support needs, how we can maximise the number of people who take up the offer of support, and resolve any barriers that prevent people from accessing it.

Dr Filippo Varese, Co-Principal Investigator of the study and Director of the Complex Trauma and Resilience Research Unit at Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust and the University of Manchester said:

“The pandemic has caused unprecedented strain on our health and social care services, and many key workers are now suffering because of the overwhelming challenges they have faced during the first waves of COVID. This research will find out if the Resilience Hubs represent an important asset for those key workers who most need support with their psychological wellbeing and mental health, both during and beyond the second wave of COVID-19.”

Dr Paul French, Co-Principal Investigator said:

“This is an excellent opportunity to utilise the findings from our original service initiatives and subsequent evaluation of the Resilience Hub to support key health and social care workers who are affected by caring for people with COVID-19.”

Prof Alan Barrett, Strategic Clinical Lead (Adults) for the Greater Manchester Resilience Hub, said:

“We are delighted that the evidenced approach used to support thousands of individuals caught up in mass terror incidents has been adapted and expanded to additionally support the heath and care workforce during these difficult times. Unlike other work scenarios, COVID-19 has significantly impacted the personal lives, in addition to the professional lives of those we are supporting, at a time when usual self-help strategies such as socialising or going to the gym are not available”

Hein Ten Cate, Clinical Lead for the Lancashire and South Cumbria Psychological Resilience Hub.

“We are really excited to have the opportunity to support our fellow colleagues working across health, social care and emergency service during these unprecedented and challenging times. We are all affected by the pandemic on some level and being able to reach out a helping hand to those who are finding it more difficult is very rewarding but more importantly the right thing to do”.

Dr May Sarsam, Clinical Lead for the Cheshire and Merseyside Resilience Hub, said:

“We’re still developing the Cheshire and Merseyside Resilience Hub, but we’re confident it will become a crucial resource for all healthcare, social care, primary care and emergency services staff in our region once it’s launched in the next couple of weeks. The mental health and wellbeing of staff often gets taken for granted but resources such as these will finally provide somewhere for those who are struggling to go to get help.”

The Hubs provide support and information, including (with some local variation): outreach to key workers; wellbeing screening; self-help resources; assessment by mental health professionals; support accessing evidence-based treatments, such as talking therapies; facilitated peer support; and ongoing telephone & email support.

If you work in health or social care and are struggling with your mental health or emotional wellbeing as a result of the pandemic, visit your local Resilience Hub website for Greater Manchester or Lancashire and South Cumbria to access support. The Cheshire and Merseyside Resilience Hub will be opening soon.

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