The following update has been shared by Jeff Harrison, Interim CEO of Combat Stress:
I am writing to bring you up to date with the progress we have made over the last 12 months and some changes we are proposing to make to our service.
Following the launch of our updated service model last year, we have continued to adapt and enhance our services to veterans to provide accessible, modern and evidence-based treatment. As you know, with the outbreak of the pandemic, we rapidly adjusted to a new way of working, supporting veterans with our specialist treatment online.
Now, to continue meeting the needs of veterans and their families today, we will significantly increase our provision of online treatment, including our unique intensive PTSD programme. Our own research – and the pandemic – has shown us that delivering treatment in this way can be just as effective as delivering it in person and most veterans are at ease with receiving treatment online.
This online provision is in addition to outpatient and residential treatment for UK veterans at one of our centres in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, as well as treatment in the community, depending on the individual needs of the veteran.
Our residential intensive treatment will move from a six-week format to three weeks. Veterans are coming to us younger and at a different life-stage, so a six-week residential treatment programme is not always suitable due to work and family commitments. In addition, the latest international research shows that a shorter duration intensive treatment programme, with shorter gaps between psychotherapy sessions, still provides successful treatment.
With treatment delivered primarily online, the need for residential accommodation will be significantly less, so a location in Scotland with fewer beds is required. We also need a location that is more accessible for those receiving outpatient treatment. As a result, we are planning to move our Scotland treatment centre from Hollybush House in Ayrshire to a more accessible location on the outskirts of Edinburgh, plus a smaller premises in Glasgow. We will announce the exact locations and date of our new Scotland treatment centres when they are confirmed.
During the pandemic, our expert clinicians have been providing veterans across the UK with treatment and support online. Veterans in Scotland currently receiving treatment will not have their treatment impacted by our move of premises.
We will continue to provide online treatment and support in Scotland until our move, and will begin resuming community-based treatment when safe to do so. After our move, and when safe and based on individual needs, we will begin providing in-person treatment (including residential) in our new premises Scotland in addition to continuing online and community treatment and support.
Tyrwhitt House, our treatment centre in Surrey, will continue to provide treatment to veterans from across the UK. Audley Court, our treatment centre in Shropshire, will continue to provide outpatient treatment but as announced last year, we intend to move to a more centrally located Midlands site in the future (when a suitable location is identified) to best meet the demands for our in-person services.
Through our new model, each year we will be able to provide direct clinical treatment to approximately 1,600 veterans with complex mental health issues, in addition to the thousands of veterans who call our Helpline or access our online guided self-help resources.
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I am thankful to all my colleagues at Combat Stress for their hard work this year. Our aim is to treat veterans’ symptoms and improve their quality of life. By further modernising our service provision with more online treatment, whilst still maintaining residential support for those who need it, veterans with complex mental health issues will be able to tackle the past and take on the future.
Thank you for your continued support.