The 7 HELPFUL Habits of Effective CAMHS

Ann and I took part in various demand and capacity trainings in 20004 and earlier and realised that all of the examples and theory seemed to relate to orthopaedic out-patients or acute hospitals. So little of the language or examples were easy to translate to CAMHS.

We decided to write a CAMHS version of the theory that would be

  • A comprehensive framework
  • Easy to apply to CAMHS
  • In CAMHS language
  • And be memorable (hence the acronym)

Since then we have discovered that our framework is consistent with the 10 High Impact Changes for Service Improvement (Modernisation Agency, 2004) and 10 High Impact Changes for Mental Health Services (CSIP, 2006) – although more memorable as not just a list!

The 7 HELPFUL habits are…

Handle Demand
Extend Capacity
Let go of Families
Process Map
Flow Management
Use Care Bundles
Look After Staff

How to Use 7 HELPFUL Habits

The 7 Helpful Habits are most effective if they are all in place. But that may feel like too big a task so you can focus on one area initially. Think of the process as a jigsaw. Which piece do you need to start with? Are you a ‘let’s start with the corners’ team or a ‘middle piece is best’ team? Use these in the way that suits you, whether to plan a whole service redesign, implement CAPA or to choose some specific areas to work on.

We have provided a self-evaluation questionnaire to help you to benchmark your service. The 7-Habits Assessment Tool (the 7-HAT) has questions for each of the Habits and the individual items for each Habit. We suggest you complete the questionnaire in your clinical team. It will stimulate discussion and ensure involvement in the process of change and curiosity about what you do.

The ELF will bring Quick Wins

We know from experience that some of the Habits take longer than others. Handling Demand involves negotiation with partner agencies and this necessarily takes time. Which Habits bring the fastest benefits? We suggest the 3 Habits that go to make up the ELF:

  • Extend capacity.
  • Let go of families.
  • Flow management.

Our Top 3 places to start

We also get asked what should be the first steps. So apart from reading the website, rating yourselves using the 7-HAT and using the ELF, we’d advise you to:

  • Start having regular team away days to think about these things (a CAPA component)
  • Process map your service (a CAPA component)
  • Implement CAPA!