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Individual help reaps benefits

11 July 2017

Individual help reaps benefits

Mental Health is a key issue for all of us, as employers and employees, with 1 in 4 of us suffering from poor mental health. One of the government’s agenda items is to double the access that people who are long term unemployed have to individual support over the next five years.

Karen Mitchell, Prospects Regional Manager in the South West, is working as a strategic partner with Jan Hutchinson, the Director of Programmes and Performance at the Centre for Mental Health, to strengthen Prospects offer in this area. Due to the great work that the Dorset team delivered in employment outcomes in 2016-17 the Centre for Mental Health now sees Prospects as a strong provider achieving work as a health outcome for our customers.

The Individual Placement and Support (IPS) is a methodology used in supported employment and is evidence based with a rapid job search approach. High quality research has shown it to be more effective than other types of traditional employment support, especially if it is delivered to the highest standard – the standard known as ‘High Fidelity’. Prospects has been piloting this approach in Weymouth, where the team were audited and obtained a score of 98, the highest they could achieve. Jan Hutchinson, who completed the audit, noted that the IPS practice demonstrated was so close to model fidelity it was very effective in finding jobs for our customers. Jan explains: “It was really interesting to review Prospects’ service and to find that the IPS practice being demonstrated is so close to model fidelity.”

Jan continues of Prospects work: “You are providing excellent work which is a great example of best practice within mental health work.”

After the successful pilot in Weymouth, Prospects is now delivering a small IPS in our Bournemouth office. We have identified two employment specialists to take referrals from people with more complex health related needs including mental health conditions from the Work Programme caseload.

The IPS service is an excellent example of supported employment practice and the high success score reflects the effectiveness of the employment specialists. It is known areas with more than one employment specialist score better, which is why Prospects have two in Bournemouth. These specialists work together providing a ‘vocational unit’ which are integrated with health clinicians. This means that referrals are now possible between Prospects and the NHS and we are able to integrate case notes and influence NHS management on a case by case basis.

During the pilot approximately ten customers started a form of work and nine of these have sustained work for longer than six months. This is because the employment specialists could identify jobs based on an individual’s needs and goals. The employment specialists worked on a case by case basis, sometimes creating appointments with people to identify vacancies or visit employers, help them to complete applications, work trials and provide on the job coaching.

The pilot also demonstrated the benefits of providing a bespoke service, as the jobs customers entered were in all sectors; national and local businesses in a wide range of roles including reception work, teaching assistants, cleaners, tele-sales, warehouse and Post Office supervisor roles.

The IPS service in Bournemouth is currently working with a caseload of 41 people, all of whom have a first or secondary mental health condition. Approximately 70% have health conditions including muscular and skeletal and other long term medical conditions or learning difficulties. Some also have criminal convictions that need to be considered at the job identification stage.

Prospects will be working together to strengthen and personalise our model for opportunities across. To find out more about the IPS model please contact

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