NHS patients in Plymouth will be offered online counselling as an alternative to face-to-face consultations from this week, as social enterprise Livewell Southwest launches the first phase of its new health and care app.
- ‘Livewell Connect’ app offers mental health support in first-stage pilot with Visiba Care
- The app helps get community health and care treatment to those in need more quickly and easily
- Paramedics and police to use to get immediate video support for patients during emergency call-outs
Patients with depression or anxiety who have been referred for therapy will be offered the chance to book and have their appointments via the free Livewell Connect app, which can be downloaded on their smartphones or tablets. The pilot will test if online video appointments – which can be held in the daytime and at evenings and weekends if needed – help people who struggle to attend face-to-face appointments get the support they need.
Livewell is a social enterprise providing physical and mental health and social care services to people in Plymouth, including Plymouth Options, which provides services to people experiencing common mental health problems, such as anxiety and depression.
The Livewell Connect app is also set to become the first digital health and care service to be rolled-out to emergency first responders such as paramedics and police, who can use it to organise urgent mental health clinical support when attending an emergency call on the streets and in the rural areas of the community served by Livewell Southwest.
Livewell has developed the smartphone app with Swedish digital health technology provider Visiba Care, which will also provide online access to other services it delivers over the course of the next 12 months. It is hoped that suitable patients accessing some of Livewell’s other services, such as weight management, will soon benefit from online consultations via the app as the technology is rolled out across the organisation.
Livewell Southwest Head of integrated care, Ian Lightley said:
We are excited by the potential that this project has to transform the way in which we respond to people experiencing any form of mental health or physical health crisis. Livewell Connect will enable us to bring our clinical expertise directly into people’s homes when it is needed, helping to avoid unnecessary onward referrals and hospital attendances, really benefiting the people we support.
We aim to work with our partners including the police, ambulance service, housing and the voluntary and third sectors to help them connect people in need of our expert help immediately.
Michelle Wells, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) therapist at Plymouth Options, said:
We know that some of our patients really struggle to get to a physical appointment and that might be for a number of reasons such as not being able to get away from work on time or because they have anxiety around attending an appointment. An hour-long appointment can also end up being longer if people have got to dive and find somewhere to park, this can be another barrier to people attending.
It’s really great that we’re able to offer people an alternative where you can still have a face-to-face appointment as opposed to just over the phone where you can’t pick up on emotional responses. We’re really excited about piloting this for Livewell and we hope the people we support find this beneficial too.
Visiba Care UK manager, Tina Marshall said:
We’re delighted to be working with Livewell Southwest to create a digital integrated care service, which will mean more people will get access to health and care services they need in the region. We work hard to make sure the technology we design is as easy to use for patients and health and care staff as other digital services people use in our everyday busy lives, so they can feel reassured that the quality of the support they get remotely will feel as helpful as if they were seeing a therapist in a clinic.
Patients in the southwest will be the first in the country to benefit from an integrated health and social care digital service.
For more information, please contact:
Tina Marshall, UK Country Manager
Phone: (+44) 01993 685384
About Livewell Southwest
Livewell Southwest is an independent, not-for-profit social enterprise providing integrated health and social care services for people in Plymouth, and community health services in South Hams and West Devon as well as some specialist services for those living in other areas of Devon and Cornwall.
Livewell Southwest was recently rated as ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission with ‘outstanding’ ratings for the services it delivers for people with learning disabilities in Plymouth and the acute mental health unit at Glenbourne.