CORC supports improvements in perinatal mental health outcomes

By 2020/21, NHS England are aiming to support at least 30,000 more women each year to access evidence based specialist mental health care during the perinatal period. To support this ambition, NHS England are working to develop national metrics to support improvements in perinatal mental health outcomes, and to ensure all services routinely collect and report on outcomes data. At present across specialist perinatal mental health services, there is inconsistency in which outcome measures are collected and how these are implemented.

In May 2018 the National Collaborating Centre for Mental Health, hosted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists published a full list of recommended outcome measurement tools for measuring and monitoring the effectiveness of perinatal mental health care. While guidance has been developed around which outcome measures services should collect to demonstrate their effectiveness, the implementation of such measures presents an ongoing challenge.

The Child Outcomes Research Consortium (CORC) in partnership with experts in the field of perinatal mental health from the Anna Freud National Centre for Children and Families (AFNCCF) have therefore been commissioned to provide guidance on best practice and how to overcome common barriers to implementation by producing an Outcome Measurement Implementation Manual and by disseminating the manual, case studies and learning via 12 regional training workshops in collaboration with Perinatal SCNs.

Due to our core work in supporting mental health services, CORC is already aware of a significant body of relevant literature (which we draw on in our guidance and training) and regularly produces case studies to share supplementary learning from the practice of our member services. We will therefore undertake a mapping review to ensure we systematically and comprehensively capture insight relevant to this project. We will use consultation interviews to identify potential best practice case studies for inclusion in the manual. CORC is already a disseminator of learning across the mental health sector and so we are also already aware of pockets of best practice happening across the country with regards to implementing routine outcome monitoring.

As part of this project, we speak to a range of stakeholders including:

  • Provider staff, including practitioners service managers and data leads
  • Commissioners
  • Service users
  • Relevant individuals identified by the funder from the perinatal clinical and outcomes implementation group and the NHSE perinatal mental health team

Our aim will be to understand the current level of practice and progress in implementing routine outcome monitoring in perinatal mental health pathways, and to identify barriers to implementation and support needs. This will include exploration of:

  • Consultees' skills, confidence and perspectives on the use of outcome measures
  • Training and support currently in place to support routine outcome monitoring implementation
  • Infrastructure and processes, including how IT is used in this area
  • The way data from outcome measures is currently used (at the clinical and service level), including analysis and interpretation, presentation and dissemination, and discussion and application
  • Examples of best practice to form a portfolio of case studies
  • Any additional areas identified by the survey and desktop research

The implementation manual aims to provide guidance for perinatal mental health services on using outcome measures in clinical practice for service improvement; and on flowing data to the Mental Health Services Dataset and deriving reliable change from outcome data. 

Measuring outcomes is crucial to being able to understand the effectiveness of care given. Routine Outcome Measures only work when people find them helpful and easy to use. And that is what we want to find out for perinatal mental health services. The project runs until May 2019 and will be publicly available on our CORC website by late June 2019.