Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust: Developing a new training programme for suicide prevention

Following the award of funding from Health Education England, Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust have spent 2 years developing a new training programme for suicide prevention, with co-production at the heart of every stage of the process.

The training programme was developed by setting up a co-production working group consisting of different professional staff groups, people who had lived experience of thoughts and feelings of suicide, and families, friends and carers who had been affected or bereaved by suicide.

Collectively it was decided to create a new programme tailored to specific needs. The training content was determined by designing three levels of training, all with very similar content but specific to the project group. The following tiers of training were developed:

  • Recovery College (2 hour session x 4)
  • Mental Health Clinician Level (1 full day)
  • GP Level (90 minute seminar x 2)

The training sessions cover several topics, and include video examples, case discussions, and real-life stories of people’s experience; and are very interactive in nature. Some of the topics covered across the training programmes include:

  • How it feels to be at the point of suicide
  • Having conversations around suicide
  • Safety planning, and crisis and contingency planning
  • Risk assessment and identifying those at high risk from suicide
  • Understanding data around suicide
  • Supporting families, friends and carers

In the training design, co-production was included at every level to ensure that all benefited from the value of lived experience. Opinions from all perspectives were treated equally when determining training content and format, and the training was formatted by someone with lived experience.  The training was filmed using a specialist film company with lived experience of mental health, and there was a lived experience consultant on hand to support and advise the actors. The Recovery College level training is co-facilitated between a clinician and between someone with lived experience.

Since successfully piloting and rolling out this training within the Surrey and Borders Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, over 450 people in Surrey have been trained across these three levels. Everyone, across all levels has rated the training as good or excellent.

At Recovery College level training, everyone who attended achieved their self-set goals, and saw an improvement in their feelings of wellbeing, alongside a reduction in their self-rated levels of personal distress. Some of the feedback comments from Recovery College course participants include:

“It made me aware of people who are struggling and how to help”

“This was of great value and importance to me”

“Course is fantastic and can only evolve”

In relation to training delivered to GPs and to mental health clinicians, there has been the biggest pre and post training shifts for staff in the following areas:

  • Knowing how to talk to people who use services about suicide
  • Doing a risk assessment and formulation
  • Writing safety plans and crisis and contingency plans

Some of the comments made on course evaluations include:

“I feel more confident in dealing with the risks of suicidal ideation after today”

“All parts of the training were extremely good and useful”

“Videos were really useful and it was good to talk about the breakdown of demographic factors”

Following this incredibly positive feedback, Health Education England are helping to roll out this training more widely. Initially, the training packages (with local adaptations) will be rolled out across Kent, Surrey and Sussex. A dedicated trainer has been recruited for each region to support this roll out.

In October 2018, Health Education England published the first competency framework on what is required for suicide prevention and self-harm training, and all the training levels have been successfully mapped against the requirements listed in this framework.

To find out more about the training, please follow the progress via twitter @Qi_team_sabp and if you have any questions, please email or send a message via twitter.

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