07 September 2020

A call has been issued for colleagues, carers or service users to steer a project launched to better support armed forces veterans.

The Trust has joined the national Veterans Covenant Healthcare Alliance (VCHA), a group of more than 50 providers aiming to improve the healthcare veterans receive from the NHS.

Part of the work will focus on understanding how veterans and the armed forces community use health and social care services and how they can be connected with services to meet their needs.

Mental illness can affect anyone, including veterans and their families. Some veterans may experience specific problems, such as anxiety or depression, which may relate to their transition to civilian life, traumatic events or life-changing injuries. They may also face cultural barriers to seeking help.

Services are available that are delivered by specialists with an expert understanding of the armed forces. The NHS can help manage care and support across other organisations, including the voluntary sector.

The work will also focus on the positive contribution which can be made by veterans through involvement from a service user perspective and also by considering how their skill-sets could also benefit services operationally through employment opportunities.

Work in the Trust will be designed and delivered through co-production.

An appeal has been launched for anyone passionate about care and support for armed forces community to join a steering group to discuss ideas and priorities.

The group will include colleagues who currently serve in the armed forces as reservists, anyone who has ever served, as well as their families and loved ones. It is also open to members of the armed forces community, which includes carers, who use Trust services.

One aim is to have a ‘veterans’ champion’ for each directorate who can talk about the project, deliver training and highlight why the alliance is important – and relevant – to colleagues and the people they support.

“We want to better support this group of people, ensure we recognise their unique needs and consider how their specialist skills and experience can also support us in our work,” said Jane Kelly, ELFT Clinical Lead for Recovery, who is leading the project with Dr Paul Gilluley, ELFT Chief Medical Officer.

The Trust is applying for accreditation through the alliance. Work will include focus on identifying veterans and reservists through People & Culture recruitment processes, and through the development of the Trust’s suicide prevention strategy.

If successful, ELFT would be formally awarded accreditation as a ‘Veteran Aware’ Trust and would display a Veteran Aware accreditation mark on all communications.

ELFT is joining a growing VCHA programme, which has support from NHS England and Improvement to be adopted in every NHS organisation, including trusts and local health systems.

This will help build a network of support for the armed forces community and ensure that veterans, reservists and their families do not face disadvantage because of their service to the country.

If you are interested in supporting the Trust’s veterans’ work please email jane.kelly10@nhs.net