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Durham University

Research & business

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Evaluation of Assertive Outreach in the North East and Yorkshire - Stage II

A research project of the Department of Sociology.

Background

Assertive outreach (AO) is a service model which aims to engage individuals with severe mental illness and complex needs considered 'difficult to engage' by traditional mental health services. AO is a key element of the National Service Framework for Mental Health, and all mental health services were required to have established AO teams by April 2003. This is the second part of a 2-stage project evaluating the implementation of assertive outreach in the North East and Yorkshire. The first stage examined the emerging AO teams between September 2002 and April 2003. This follow-up will look at how AO teams have changed over time, the outcomes for service users, and how AO teams relate to other local community mental health services.

The partner organisations are: Mental Health Trusts - Bradford District; County Durham & Darlington; Craven, Harrogate & Rural; Humber; Leeds; Newcastle, North Tyneside & Northumberland; South of Tyne and Wearside; South West Yorkshire; Tees & North East Yorkshire. Primary Care Trusts - Hambleton & Richmondshire; Selby & York.

This stage of the project runs from March 2005 to September 2006.

Aims

To investigate changes in the organisation and function of AO services in the region since 2002/3; to determine the outcomes for AO service users; and to investigate the relationships between AO teams and other community mental health services, namely, Community Mental Health teams, crisis resolution/home treatment teams and early intervention services.

Methods

The same measures and methods used in Stage I of the project will be employed. Interviews with team leaders will examine team organisation (TOQ), team conformity to the AO model (DACTS, D-UK), and service provision (ICMHC). Outcomes for service users, including symptomology and hospital admissions, will be assessed by staff-rated survey (MARC-2, HoNOS, and GAS). Case studies of the mental health service system in selected areas, utilising the same measures (adapted where appropriate), will be employed to examine relationships between AO teams and other community mental health services.