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Partnership testing new way to monitor physical health in mental illness

19 September 2019

Improving detection, monitoring and management of physical ill health for people with long-term and severe mental illness

17th September 2019 – Care City in partnership with North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT), Essex Partnership University Trust (EPUT), UCLPartners and XIM is testing a new and improved method of monitoring and measuring physical health for patients with mental illness.

The health disparity faced by people with serious mental illness is well documented, as are the multiple contributing factors for this. NELFT and EPUT are committed to maximising opportunities for their mental health staff to support people to improve their physical health alongside their mental health. Digital technology offers a potential tool to support staff, build confidence in physical health assessment and ultimately improve outcomes for our population.

Lifelight is a software technology that allows completely contactless measurement of four vital signs (heart rate, blood pressure and respiration) in just 40 seconds using the camera built into a standard tablet device, with no additional hardware, making the process of taking vital signs much simpler and less distressing for staff and patients. We anticipate that implementing this technology will enable staff to gain confidence in physical health monitoring and detection, better supporting people to look after themselves, improve their health and prevent avoidable health problems.

The project will evaluate the effectiveness of the tool as well as service users’, their carers’ and staff acceptability of such digital contactless vital signs technology use on mental health wards. The aim is to reduce the distress and discomfort of having vital signs taken in comparison to current methods, and to enable mental health professionals to deliver more effective detection and intervention for physical deterioration or physical disease risk factors.

Hannah Harniess, Deputy Chief Executive, Care City commented “People with long-standing mental ill health often suffer a greater burden of physical health conditions. Technology which can help staff better monitor and manage physical health during an acute mental health admission could contribute significant steps towards addressing this disparity. We are therefore delighted to be able to support NELFT and EPUT to implement and evaluate the use of digital technology to improve physical monitoring of mental health in-patients.”

Dr Kallur Suresh, EPUT’s Deputy Medical Director, said: “We are delighted to have the opportunity to test the use of this exciting technology in our care for people with mental ill health. It is very important that we look after people’s physical health as well as treating their mental health conditions. This innovation has the potential to improve people’s health outcomes – as we could better monitor any deterioration in their health – and also improve their experience of care.”

Caroline Allum, Executive Medical Director, NELFT commented “We are really excited to be part of this project. This will help in situations where taking manual observations may be difficult and allow better patient care. The staff are excited to find technology that helps them in their daily work.”

Professor Mike Roberts, Managing Director, UCLPartners AHSN commented, “The NHS Long Term Plan challenges us all to implement new technologies that provide solutions to key clinical challenges. This exciting programme is one such innovation that will help us develop a technologically enabled workforce to meet the needs of our patients today and tomorrow.”


Notes to Editor

About Care City

Care City is an innovation centre for healthy ageing and regeneration and works as the innovation partner to East London’s health and care system. Every project it takes on is about improving both health and the determinants of health. It is currently working on projects to improve – variously – the built environment, community cohesion and economic development alongside improving health. Over time it wants to help to build a system of anchor institutions across East London. It became a Community Interest Company in June 2019.

About Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (EPUT)

EPUT provides community health, mental health and learning disability services for a population of approximately 1.3 million people throughout Essex and Suffolk. EPUT also provides immunisation and some inpatient services in Bedfordshire.

It was formed on 1 April 2017 following the merger of North Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (NEP) and South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT). It employs more than 5,000 staff across 200 sites.


North East London Foundation Trust (NELFT) provides an extensive range of integrated community and mental health services for people living in the London boroughs of Barking & Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Waltham Forest and community health services for people living in the south west Essex areas of Basildon, Brentwood and Thurrock.

About UCLPartners

UCLPartners brings together people and organisations to transform the health and wellbeing of the population across parts of London, Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Essex. As one of 15 Academic Health Science Networks (AHSNs) across England, UCLPartners has been commissioned by the Office for Life Sciences to provide ‘Innovation Exchanges’ to identify, select and support the adoption of innovations that improve patients’ lives and support the economy. As part of this work, UCLPartners has commissioned Care City to help deliver its work to support innovation in North East London.

About XIM
Xim is a creative, entrepreneurial SME focussing on innovative Digital Health applications with over 16 years’ experience delivering R&D projects across Europe including multi-modal, emotional recognition, usability for the older generation, workplace wellbeing incentivising through a pan-European digital application using gamification and now camera-based vital signs technologies.