Loughrea/Athenry Community Mental Health Team wins prestigious Taoiseach’s Public Service award

HSE West’s Loughrea / Athenry Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) project has been awarded a Taoiseach's Public Service Excellence Award 2008. The Awards are organised as part of the Public Service’s Quality Customer Service Initiative, which aims to provide a consistently high level of service to clients of the public service. The Selection Committee assessed over 180 projects put forward for inclusion for the Taoiseach’s Awards 2008. An initial shortlist of 44 projects was made, from which 20 winners were selected. The awards were presented by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern TD at a ceremony in Dublin Castle on Friday, April 18th.

Commenting, Padraig O’ Beirne, Assistant Director of Nursing Loughrea / Athenry CMHT said: We were delighted to receive this award on behalf of all the service users and staff involved in the Loughrea/Athenry Community Mental Health Team. We currently provide a service for a predominantly rural population in East Galway

In 2004, East Galway Mental Health services embarked on a project to move towards the development of a more community-based mental health team which would build on the existing structures. The rationale for this move had a number of influences, such as recruitment of new disciplines, new staff joining the service, service user views, the re-orientation of mental health services from a largely institutional model to one which provided for a continuum of care, new mental health legislation and international research.  The Loughrea/Athenry Team undertook to develop their services to reflect this new thinking.

According to Mr. O’Beirne: In 2003, waiting times for what was then a medical assessment varied from 6-8 weeks, service planning was difficult due to the individualised structure of services, with little external involvement of clients or their families. Individual disciplines worked using their own professional models and assessments. The challenge was to establish a functioning Community Mental Health Team based in the community of Loughrea/Athenry with the ability to deliver a comprehensive mental health service in the community and which afforded the service user choice and involved them and all other relevant groups in the planning of services.

These initiatives were implemented between 2005 and 2006. The Team audited its service in 2007 and found the following:

  • Admission to hospital was reduced by 43%
  • Referrals to CMHT increased by 135%
  • Waiting times for assessment reduced therefore improving patients access to the mental health service -
  • 36% of all referrals seen within 2 days
  •         47% within 5 days
  •       73% within 10 working days

In planning and implementing this new Team, HSE West worked closely with all of those involved including service users, their families, their GPs and its own staff.

The Community Mental Health Team developed new methods of bringing all the professions involved in mental health together and implemented new methods such as Generic Assessment, Care Coordination and Multidisciplinary Care Planning. This meant that this new way of treating patients primarily in the community was done in a much more integrated way.

Anne Jeffers, Consultant Psychiatrist with the Loughrea /Athenry service says: The service, no longer dominated by the traditional model, has a greater opportunity to introduce the principles of the Recovery model. All staff and service users have their experience and expertise recognised, with changes successfully introduced by ensuring staff input into the change management process.


Last updated on: 30 / 04 / 2008