Living Well Network Hub: Meet people in cafes not clinics

| Anna Eaton

We love that staff working at the Living Well Network Hub in Lambeth make an effort to meet people using services in different locations – outside of formal, consulting rooms. We think this is a great idea because it puts more control into the hands of people.

The Living Well Network was formed in 2013 to provide earlier support to people with common mental health needs. The Hub is at the heart of the network. It is often described as the ‘front door’ for mental health services in Lambeth. The support the Hub provides is holistic, building on people’s strengths, skills, interests and connections within communities. We caught up with Stacey Hemphill, the Living Well Network Hub Manager to learn more about how staff engage with people outside of the Hub.

Championing community spaces

Stacey explained that when someone is referred to the Hub, they are offered a place to meet of their choosing. The Hub team has limited space in their office so they champion the use of other community spaces that people like or want to visit. They use spaces occupied and organised by other services, such as the independent living and carers hub at 336 Brixton Road, South Side Rehab Partnership, Probation Drop in Hub in Stockwell, Mosaic Clubhouse, GP practices, churches, cafes, parks and even in pubs – as long as there’s no alcohol consumed.

The Hub team also see everyone in open drop in sessions at least once. This is where people are sitting side by side with Hub workers or across a table in a large room, but far enough away from others to allow private enough conversation.

The team also offer to see people in their home environment or in a family member’s home. And they invite people for open drop in sessions at various locations. So there’s a huge array of choices. It seems to be popular option as most face to face contacts between staff and people tend to happen outside of the Hub’s offices.

What about confidentiality?

The more open, less controlled meeting places may raise questions about whether any confidentiality issues arise. However, Stacey explained that the team at the Hub generally meet people for initial conversations. During these initial conversations, they are able to screen for and plan with the people that they think would need a private environment for further, often in depth clinical conversation. These further conversations then usually take place in private rooms that are made available at the various community spaces.

Similarly, some people are not worried about confidentially. Stacey says people often don’t mind sitting talking about their lives in cafes over coffee:

“It’s normal – people do it all the time. The louder and busier the café, often the better. And as long as the person is choosing that and is comfortable, we are happy”.

The comfort and ease of people is put first, by offering up location options for people to choose from when accessing services. It’s a simple step that allows the Hub team and services to be flexible and reach out to all areas of the borough. We think many organisations across the country are adopting this more accessible and less clinical approach to referrals and introductions. If you’re doing this too, Tweet or email to let us know!

For more information about the Living Well Network Hub please contact Stacey Hemphill Or you can call the Hub on 0203 691 5080.

Photo by Joshua Ness

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