Key points to note from the Best Practice Guidance for Suicide Prevention Services (HSE, 2019)

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In 2019, the HSE released the Best Practice Guidance for Suicide Prevention Services which aims to support organisations to deliver high-quality, evidence-based suicide prevention services. Implementing this guidance is an important step in assuring quality in the provision of suicide prevention services.

The Best Practice Guidance for Suicide Prevention Services (HSE, 2019) is relatively new to the sector. This coupled with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on service provision over the last two years has resulted in a limited opportunity for services to consider their implementation.

Now is the time for services to be proactive and look at implementing this guidance. In this blog, we discuss the key points to note from the Guidance and offer services advice on the initial steps required to implement the Best Practice Guidance for Suicide Prevention Services (HSE, 2019).

Who is the guidance for?

The HSE state this guidance is designed to be used by organisations providing suicide prevention services, including services providing:

Structure of the HSE Best Practice Guidance for Suicide Prevention Services

The document identifies five key themes for quality and safety in suicide prevention services, these are:

  1. Recovery oriented care and support
  2. Effective care and support
  3. Safe care and support
  4. Leadership, governance and management
  5. Workforce

Each theme identified in the document has a one or more aims and related indicators. Under each indicator there is a set of features which describe what best practice in this area looks like. Below are a number of examples of the types of aims and indicators outlined in the guidance.

Theme 1: Recovery Oriented Care and Support

Recovery-oriented suicide prevention services are person-centred and promote kindness, consideration and respect for people’s rights, dignity, privacy and autonomy. They empower people to be involved in shaping the services they are using, to making informed choices and to promote their own wellbeing and recovery.

This theme has eight aims and each of these aims has one or more indicators. An example of aims and indicators are below.

Theme 2: Effective Care and Support

Delivering an effective suicide prevention service means that the person using the service receive the best achievable outcome within the context of the service provided and the resources available to it.

This theme has six aims and six corresponding indicators. An example of these are listed below.

Theme 3: Safe Care and Support

Safe care and support means that people using a suicide prevention service are protected from potential harm, both in their personal circumstances and whilst seeking support from the service. A high-quality, safe service learns from all relevant information, including when things go wrong.

This theme as five aims and five corresponding indicators. An example of these are listed below.

Theme 4: Leadership, Governance and Management

Leaders have a key role to play in strengthening and encouraging a culture of quality and safety within their service. A well-managed and well-governed suicide prevention service ensures that the service effectively plans, organises and delivers safe, person-centred and recovery-oriented care, in compliance with legislation, standards, guidance and recommendations from relevant statutory bodies.

This theme has five aims and a number of corresponding indicators for each aim. An example is listed below:

Theme 5: Workforce

The workforce in a suicide prevention service is one of its most important resources. It is important that the workforce has the right mix of skills to deliver high-quality, safe and reliable care and support, and that the workforce is planned, structured and managed effectively.

This theme has four aims and a number of corresponding indicators, an example listed below:

What to do next?

As part of the guidance, the HSE request that suicide prevention services self-assess their service against the guidance to track progress and identify examples of how they have implemented the guidance. They recommend doing this over a 12-month period.

A good place to start, even prior to the self-assessment, is to first benchmark your service against the guidance. This can be done by completing a Gap Analysis of your service against the Best Practice Guidance for Suicide Prevention Services (HSE, 2019).

Conducting a Gap Analysis against the guidance will help you understand your current position, how your service’s processes currently stack up against what is required for best practice, and it will give you a detailed understanding on whether your processes are comprehensive, if they are effective and if they are person centred.

Once you know the gap between current practice and required practice, a plan for compliance can be developed.

How can HCI help?

HCI has been working with health and social care organisations for over 17 years, supporting them in building Quality and Safety Management Systems that fulfil regulatory requirements and drive improvement in their services.

We have recently supported Suicide Prevention Service by conducting a Gap Analysis against the Best Practice Guidance for Suicide Prevention Services (HSE, 2019). We use our knowledge and understanding of regulatory inspections to develop a comprehensive report that will detail areas of good practice and areas of non-compliance against the best practice guidance. This report can be used to support the development of a Quality Improvement Plan that will support you in implementing a best practice, comprehensive Quality and Safety Management System.

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