Distress response to coronavirus goes live

In response to the coronavirus, the Scottish Government has extended the Distress Brief Intervention programme. Penumbra is one of the third sector partners in that initiative and our Head of Innovation and Improvement, Stephen Finlayson, sees this as exciting opportunity to further develop DBI, which has widely been recognised as innovative and pioneering. Here, Stephen explains how DBI works.

We’ve been asked to cover the health board areas of Shetland, Orkney, Grampian, Tayside, Lothian and Ayrshire and Arran. This represents about 43 per cent of the population of Scotland. The remainder of the country will be covered by SAMH, Support In Mind and local providers. The service will build on our experience of delivering DBI in Aberdeen and Moray over the last few years, as part of the pilot project. We will take referrals from the NHS 24 Mental Health Hub, making contact with the referred person within 24 hours to discuss their issues.

Support will be available to people for up to 14 days from that first contact. Specific training will be given to staff providing this service to ensure we provide a consistent, connected, compassionate approach.

Given the coronavirus, it is envisaged that this service will be provided via telephone or video. We believe, and statistics show, that people can and do recover from mental ill health. However, recovery means different things to different people because everybody is different. So our approach is very much person-centred. We focus on what a good life looks like for each person. We help people plan how they might achieve their goals with the support of those around them. Recovery doesn’t necessarily mean being ‘cured’ or living without medication or support. It’s about being in charge of your own life, with real choices under your control.

Our wellbeing toolkit (Individual Recovery Outcomes Counter (I.ROC) is a tool we developed to measure a person’s progress. It works hand in hand with Penumbra’s HOPE philosophy – Home, Opportunity, People, Empowerment. These are the fundamental aspects of day to day life that enable people to regain confidence and to move forward. They are the four cornerstones of our work and our staff work hard to ensure people get the support they need to develop their skills and abilities.

For us, hope is a vital part of recovery and supporting people to have, and hold, hope for the future is a key part of our work.

However, I.ROC was developed to help us measure that work. It’s a way for us to make sure we’re offering the best support but, more importantly, it also allows people to track their own progress and see how life has changed for them. Some clients stick it to their fridge; it can be difficult when you’re in the midst of things to see the positives but I.ROC is there as a visual reminder that there is hope.

Stephen Finlayson is the Head of Innovation and Improvement for Penumbra.

Read the full DBI briefing