New Leaf is part of Devon Partnership NHS Trust’s (DPT) Vocational Rehabilitation Service. This is a service developed from many years of providing therapy, training and supported employment to people living with mental health issues. Examples of what New Leaf delivers: The benefits of vocational rehabilitation are achieved by attending any of the businesses within the New Leaf service. Hillcrest Growers – a commercial wholesale and retail plant nursery; New Leaf Café – food preparation, food hygiene, menu design and hospitality; New Leaf Print – providing a range of digital printing and print finishing services; Wood Works – a fully equipped workshop environment, producing commercial and delivering courses, Clothing Works – IT, basic design, garment packaging and dispatch, basic accountancy and invoicing, customer service. … But it’s not only about the activity itself – it’s all about recognising the value of occupation in aiding recovery.
What We Did
New Leaf is part of Devon Partnership NHS Trust’s (DPT) Vocational Rehabilitation Service. This is a service developed from many years of providing therapy, training and supported employment to people living with mental health issues.
The longer someone is absent from employment, the harder it is to return. There is strong evidence for the way in which access to employment improves mental health outcomes. There are therefore
compelling benefits for individual people, but also wider economic benefits for society. There is a paucity of employment services which has led to a national strategic priority to improve access to such services for people with mental health needs, confirmed through the Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. New Leaf is an exemplar service which can help inform the development of employment services regionally and nationally.
New Leaf provides a safe and supportive environment to help with:
• Engaging in meaningful & productive activity
• Re-building and retaining self-confidence & self-esteem
• Being with other people again – reducing isolation, improving social inclusion, re-entering society.
• Improving work stamina
• Getting back into a routine
• A sense of purpose & building structure into a day
• Improving physical and mental well-being
Examples of what New Leaf delivers:
The benefits of vocational rehabilitation are achieved by attending any of the businesses within the New Leaf service.
• Hillcrest Growers – a commercial wholesale and retail plant nursery.
• New Leaf Café – food preparation, food hygiene, menu design and hospitality.
• New Leaf Print – providing a range of digital printing and print finishing services.
• Wood Works – a fully equipped workshop environment, producing commercial and delivering courses.
• Clothing Works – IT, basic design, garment packaging and dispatch, basic accountancy and invoicing, customer service.
… But it’s not only about the activity itself – it’s all about recognising the value of occupation in aiding recovery.
The opportunities offered at New Leaf are for people exploring vocational options – those who have the intention of finding paid work at some point in the future but who need time to explore their options and possibly try voluntary work and/or learning as part of their route to finding paid work. New Leaf is not a Day Centre.
New Leaf are part of a specialist Mental Health Trust and as such work with other services within the Trust. New Leaf can be part of the care pathway for many people with complex needs from different mental health services, such as: Community mental health teams, Eating disorder unit, Forensic services, Rehabilitation wards, Gender and Sexual Medicine Clinic, Supported employment and Job retention services.
In addition New Leaf work with the wider community including third sector organisations such as Pluss and St Loyes Foundation, Job Centre, Exeter College, Peninsula Medical School, Council for voluntary services, and provide Occupational Therapy student placements.
New Leaf engage with the local community – by providing a local service, through the production and distribution of Plants, apple juice, Christmas Cakes, wood products and printing.
We also challenge stigma, and raise awareness of mental health, by attending many community events.
New Leaf also won the most “Innovative NHS Forest” in the country, as part of the NHS Forest initiative.
New Leaf has worked closely with the RSPB as the managers of a valuable habitat for the rare Cirl Bunting.
New Leaf provides courses for Devon Recovery Learning Community, which are open to people with a mental health condition, their carers and health professionals.
New Leaf work very closely with Workways who are based on site, which lends itself to a smooth transition from New Leaf to next stage of job seeking.
The service provided by New Leaf is very inclusive, and people attending are encouraged to be part of the Team. People attending are involved in all aspects of the work being carried out throughout the various departments.
People attending receive regular reviews, at which they are able to have input into not only their own action plans but development of the service. Everyone is aware of complaints procedures.
The impact that New Leaf has on people living with mental illness is significant. There are examples of people the service has helped who have barely been able to leave their own home who, subsequently, return to full-time employment. As one person said ‘ I will always be eternally grateful for all your help, for making me feel human again’.
Looking Back/ Challenges Overcome
It can be quite difficult getting other healthcare professionals to understand the individual nature of this NHS service- we don’t quite fit any box!
There are challenges of running several businesses and generating income, within the NHS while balancing the need to support the people on placement. ‘Staffing’ levels and productivity can be very variable given the nature of the operating model.
The unique element of New Leaf is the commercial work undertaken, producing quality products at the right price. In turn the quality of the products has enabled New Leaf to build a consistent customer base, to ensure a continued stream of work in the future.
This work gives real value to the people attending. People are able to take pride in being part of the Team producing the products, and see customers both private and commercial valuing the products, leading to a huge boost to self-esteem and confidence, and this, not income, is the real value of the work we do’
Evaluation (Peer or Academic)
There have been many articles highlighting the benefits of horticulture in recovery.
See below for copied New Leaf Questionnaire:
The staff at New Leaf endeavour to make your experience of our service to be as positive as we can. To enable us to achieve this please can you take a few minutes to answer the questionnaire below.
1. What additional information if any, wold you have liked to have been told when attending the Informal Visit?
2. None extra needed
3. All good
5. None, everything explained well
6. Was all OK
7. I don’t think there’s anything
8. Nothing what was said was another
10. Perhaps what to wear as no one told me I couldn’t wear open sandals in the polytunnels
12. None. It was all covered.
13. Bus timetable from Exeter.
14. Unable to think of any issues.
17. I don’t think there are anything I was not told about.
18. I don’t have anything to add as it was very informative and welcoming.
19. Positive visit
20. I was given enough information
21. I feel that talking about the workplace
22. I think there was adequate information
23. That snacks are available for purchase in the canteen
2. Did you find the application form easy enough to complete?
Yes 23 respondents No 1 respondent
If no, what would you like to see changed?
1. Yes with help
2. My cooking to increase
3. Helped by Becky at Workways appointment
4. I didn’t need to complete one as I came via Workways
5. Benefits info – ESA – not very clear
6. I was referred direct via Workways so did not complete the application form
7. N/A I went through Workways
3. Do you have any comments about your Initial Assessment meeting?
1. Everything was explained well
3. All good
8. Maybe a little too short
9. No, I think it was very good and inspiring
11. It was very useful. It was good to get to use the tools straight away
12. Prompt and efficient
13. Went well
14. Most helpful
16. Handled very professionally and gave enthusiasm and interest for beginning placement at New Leaf
17. That is was more helpful for me to decide what I wanted to do
18. I was very worried initially, but was soon put at ease
19. It was good feedback, initial assessment was good
21. It was very good of Matt to bring me
23. It went well, I was asked many questions but not made to feel uncomfortable
4. How did you feel about the length of time you had to wait between your Initial Assessment and your Workshop Visit?
a) Very Satisfied 15
b) Satisfied 12
d) Very Dis-satisfied
I only waited a couple of weeks so that was good.
5. Please tell us about your Taster Period experience (first 6 sessions) here at New Leaf.
1. I’ve enjoyed my experience for the first 6 weeks. You don’t know from one week next what you will be doing you don’t get bored all things are explained well and you are left to get on with it.
2. It has gone well, I have learned a lot of new skills in Wood Work.
3. Very important to start from basics and work up from there.
4. Very useful, good hand on experience.
6. Very positive experience.
7. I feel they have gone very well. I feel I have been cooking really well.
8. Just started have been 3 times and am enjoying it.
9. I feel it went well the instructions were explained well and easy to understand and I’m pleased with what I have made.
10. Enjoyable and confidence building.
11. I’ve been able to really find out what my difficulties are and the staff have always been really open and reliable. I am getting less anxious when I’m at New Leaf and have made a good friend who I work alongside. The staff are always there to listen and are pro-active at passing on information. I’m still anxious but don’t have panic attack like I was having in a paid job.
12. Enjoyable, helped improve self-confidence, improvement to health physically and mentally, improved stamina.
13. I enjoyed the taster period. I like the fact that I was able to practice new skills. I learnt a lot about basic joins and wood types. Richard was very supportive.
14. During the taster period experience I have learned to deadhead, prune apple trees, water plants in the greenhouses, weed and use the machine to put compost into pots. I have been well led by the instructors and this has improved my confidence and self-esteem, communication skills, fitness and stamina, working memory, social skills and verbal communication. I have also enjoyed the meals at lunchtime.
15. An opportunity to relearn woodworking skills and to work alongside with clients with similar problems to myself. Enjoyed the teaching and learnt new skills.
16. Despite injury related absence I enjoyed the time.
17. I have thoroughly enjoyed the Taster Period experience. I feel that with the support of Darren (& other staff members) that I have gained a lot of confidence. I always look forward to coming to New Leaf.
18. Enjoyed very much doing different things every week and built good rapport with technical instructor.
19. My first sessions have been a very positive experience and I have learnt more about myself and capabilities.
20. This was a great opportunity for me to find out about what I was capable of doing in the work of wood work.
21. I felt at first that I might not have the stamina to complete the course. I am over the moon that I have managed to improve skills on an on-going weekly basis. Have a positive purpose.
22. I enjoyed my 6 week session it was a good experience. The team are very helpful.
23. The first day I was nervous did not know what to expect but I was made to feel settled. I was shown different ways of making different foods and gaining the confidence to try them at home. My mentor explains things in a way that is easy to understand and follow. I am enjoying it.
24. I think that woodwork has been enjoyable.
25. It has been fun. Helen, Phil and Danny are all very nice. I’m getting on well with other service users too.
26. I have found getting into a routine of value. I have been learning valuable new skills.
27. I have enjoyed stitching booklets together. I also liked washing and labelling apple juice bottles.
Testimonials “New Leaf gave me a new lease of life”. “…I will never forget the wonderful help and support I received. it has been a long and hard journey, but the time spent at New Leaf put the foundations in place for my next step. I decided to return to my studies , and on Saturday 8th October, I graduated from the University of Plymouth through Petroc Barnstaple, with a B A (Hons) in Professional Development (Business and Management).” “I gained so much from New Leaf, that it is difficult to put it into words! The whole environment has made me feel a lot more confident socially , as before I came I wouldn’t really talk to anybody, even though I’m still shy I do feel able to talk to people with a lot more confidence than I ever could of before. The staff and people who attend New Leaf are what makes it so special, it is one of the few places I have ever felt accepted and like I belong.” “…I was very broken when I started New Leaf – full of silence, fear and hiding. I found in New Leaf a safe place to grow and rediscover things…” “New Leaf helped me find me again and helped me to remember what I enjoy and also what I am good at. With the help of New Leaf, and the wonderful facilities I have literally got back to my roots.” “Thank you so much for everything, none of this would have been possible without the help and support I received at New Leaf. Thank you and forever grateful.”
New Leaf has recently been showcased by NHS England as part of the Sustainability and Transformation Plan. http://www.wenp.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/12/Nigel-Acheson-Sustainability-Transformation-Plans.pdf
We offer the opportunity for people to visit, and receive an overview of our service one afternoon every week.
New Leaf have had several articles in local newspapers and Occupational Therapy Journal .
New Leaf run a Facebook page and a website to promote the service, attend Conferences and Exhibitions.
New Leaf in conjunction with the Eden Project and Homeless link won a Silver medal at the Chelsea Flower Show
Is there any other information you would like to add?
Don Crispin who manages the New Leaf service, has dedicated his career to the development of this service. His mission to change people’s lives, began when he started working for the NHS on 9 March 1981, and his service has been continuous since that date.