Monday, 22 November 2021
South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust is celebrating five years since the opening of its Lotus Assessment Suite at Springfield Hospital in Tooting. The award-winning service, which was the first of its kind in the UK, opened its doors in November 2016 to provide an alternative to A&E for adults who need emergency mental health care.
The Lotus Assessment Suite provides a safe, stable and calming environment away from A&E which allows mental health staff to undertake more detailed and informed assessments of people experiencing a mental health crisis and to agree what the best follow up support for them will be. The service won the Nursing in Mental Health Award at the Nursing Times Awards in 2017 and was named Regional Champion for the Excellence in Healthcare Award in the 2019 NHS Parliamentary Awards.
The team running the unit is made up of 24 nurses, healthcare assistants and nursing associates, who work as part of a full multi-disciplinary team led by Joan Henshaw, Unit Manager. “We are a service that supports people in crisis with their mental health.” explained Joan. “We are a nurse-led unit, so our nursing staff work very closely with patients to decide the most appropriate treatment and empower them to achieve their recovery goals.”
To celebrate Lotus’ fifth anniversary, Joan organised a birthday party at the unit for staff and service users on Wednesday 17 November. They celebrated with a shared lunch, cake and an art competition which involved everyone panting a picture to portray their experiences over the last year.
Joan said: “We are often so busy that we forget to stop and reflect and do something fun to mark special occasions. So, I thought it was important for us to protect some time to do that and celebrate what we have achieved together over the last five years. I really am in awe of how the team has handled some of the challenges that we’ve experienced recently. I think they are an amazing group of individuals and I’m so proud to be a part of the team.”
Reflecting on why she enjoys working at the unit, Joan said: “I like the fact it’s a nurse-led unit. We have a wonderful set of nurses who are highly skilled, motivated and passionate about the work they do. Our nurses feel empowered to use their skills and work autonomously to achieve the best outcomes for our service users.”
Dr Seán Whyte, Deputy Medical Director and Consultant Psychiatrist at the Lotus Assessment Suite, said: “Lotus like the rest of the NHS has had a really difficult two years. Throughout the pandemic we’ve remained open for people in crisis and I’m proud of the way staff have responded to the challenges.
“Today is about taking a moment to reflect on what the situation has been like for us all, but also to have a bit of fun and remember we are all human beings going through this together. Lotus is the most fun-loving team I’ve ever worked in and I’m delighted to be celebrating with them today.”
Jen Allan, Chief Operating Officer, said: “It is wonderful to see the Lotus team taking some time to celebrate this milestone. I know how hard staff have been working, and while we are experiencing an
increase in demand and staffing challenges, which have meant making some changes to how we work, the team continues to provide the very best care for our patients.”
Congratulations to one of the Trust’s service users who won the art competition with their fantastic painting held by Joan Henshaw (right). Also pictured is the three runners-up (from left to right): Janice Murray, Team Administrator; Rita Liotisaite, Charge Nurse; and Lisa Shonge, Healthcare Assistant.
Find more information about the Lotus Assessment Suite here.