12 November 2021

A new member has joined Trust’s People Participation (PP) team to ensure that service users and carers are involved from the outset in shaping a vision to modernise inpatient mental health care. 

Lou Stephens will ensure the voices of people with lived experience are central in developing plans to modernise inpatient mental health care in Bedford Borough, Central Bedfordshire and Luton.

The Trust and partner Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group (BLMK CCG) believe that care can be improved through a programme that includes building a £60m new mental health hospital at Bedford Health Village and investing £10m in redeveloping existing inpatient services in Luton.

Lou, who has lived in Luton for 34 years, joined the Trust in October and has already started meeting with service users, carers and colleagues.

“This is an incredibly important programme and the only way to get it right is to embed co-production from the very beginning,” she said.

“People who have experienced mental health inpatient care, and carers who have supported their loved ones through that journey, have a huge amount to contribute.” 

She added: “Nobody knows better than the people who have walked in those shoes what is needed to develop something that truly meets their needs and that would be a world leader in providing patient-centred mental health inpatient care.” 

Lou will be coordinating a range of ways for people to get involved, from online forums to producing a survey open for anyone interested to complete and share comments. 

She is passionate about co-production in mental health and has lived experience as a carer. Her daughter has had profound mental ill health for the last seven years. 

Lou has previously worked as a support worker in a community mental health setting, for the University of Bedfordshire (University of Luton at the time) and in managing supported accommodation for homeless people. 

She is happy to be contacted by anyone with an interest in mental health care who would like to share their views and experience as part of the modernisation vision. 

Lou can be contacted on Tel: 07876 003278 or Email: louise.stephens9@nhs.net