Purpose– National mental health policies in the UK have a common theme of seeking to develop working partnerships between people who use mental health services, their families and carers and professionals. In Somerset, following a staff training programme, a Family Liaison Service has been developed whereby systemically trained staff work alongside inpatient staff to hold family meetings as part of the assessment and admission process on all wards for working age adults and older people. This article aims to focus on this initiative.
Design/methodology/approach – The article considers the development of the Family Liaison Service and evaluates its progress based on audit data, feedback from families using the service, and a survey of staff experience. Issues raised in developing family inclusive services are discussed.
Findings – Evaluation of the service suggests that, although there is still progress to be made, considerable success has been achieved in embedding the service on inpatient units with a substantial increase in meetings held between staff and families. Feedback from families is positive and staff report increased confidence in engaging with families and carers.
Originality/value – This article describes a transferable model for the implementation of national policy to develop working partnerships with families and carers in mainstream mental health services.