The ‘Making IPS Work’ Project

25 May 2017
By Julie Bailie, East London Foundation Trust

Although many people with severe mental health problems would like to work, and find it helpful to their recovery, only about 7% of people are in employment. Julie Bailie explains how Centre for Mental Health has been supporting the use of Individual Placement and Support in Luton and Bedfordshire to change this.

East London Foundation Trust (ELFT) provides secondary mental health services in Luton and Bedfordshire. The ELFT Board agreed to work with Centre for Mental Health and host the 18 month “Making IPS Work” pilot from September 2015.

The pilot developed a new Individual Placement and Support (IPS) service in Luton and converted an existing employment service in Bedfordshire. Two posts were grant-funded for the 18 month period and ELFT undertook to support the project by hosting Centre for Mental Health staff.

The IPS team grew to comprise six full-time equivalent Employment Specialists (NHS Band 5) each based within a Community Mental Health Team and a half-time Administrative Assistant.

The total number of new referrals received by the service during the 18 month period was 406 and with the resources available, we were able to work with 280 service users.

During the pilot 90 people (32% of those supported) have secured paid employment and a further 28% are still being supported to look for work. Some of those who secured employment got temporary or part-time jobs: and some people have obtained more than one part-time role at a time. In total, 114 jobs were secured through the pilot.

I am overjoyed to receive help I need to find paid employment using this service, as I have a disability and can’t use online job applications by myself and suffer fatigue.


IPS supports the achievement of the “right” job for each person so the team supports and encourages ongoing or additional job search. Jobs which ended were either temporary jobs, unsuitable (due to hours) or ended by mutual consent.

A major achievement of the pilot has been the increased interest and support for IPS across the Trust including interest from the Board members, the Trust Chair, Non-Executive Directors, clinical teams, carers and service users. This has enabled more people to hear about and be referred into the service. This has resulted in the great outcomes not only in terms of numbers but in some incredible personal journeys back into work.

Since its introduction the IPS Employment Service has become an invaluable part of the CMHT’s recovery focused work.

Associate Director

What a great service – excellent to see its achievements being recognised more widely. Thank you for supporting a service user I’ve been working with into her first paid employment recently.

Lead Psychologist

One of the key successes of the pilot was the establishment of and continuous support for the Employment Steering Group. The group comprised service users, commissioners, clinical team managers, directors, DWP managers, advocacy service staff as well as the IPS Team Lead and IPS Regional Trainer. Local commissioners in particular are very keen to see IPS established and funded locally.

In addition to the main Steering Group, the IPS team brought together partners and established two new local employment networks in Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire in addition to an existing one in Luton.

I feel that I have been on a journey since I have met B; and now it starts another journey in which I know if more questions come up, I know Bedfordshire Employment Service and B will be there to support me.


At the end of the pilot, the Trust has shown a keen interest in and a commitment to IPS and its intentions to widen accessibility for all service users. In Bedfordshire, funding for four Employment Specialists and an IPS Manager will continue and form part of the New Recovery Model due to be launched later in 2017. In Luton the three Employment Specialists plus the former IPS Team Lead have had contracts extended for three months until negotiations on long-term funding are finalised.

The IPS Employment Specialists have been very well received and are now regarded as an essential part of the multi-disciplinary Community Mental Health Teams. All staff have been fully integrated within the teams which has enabled timely and appropriate referrals.

I have achieved Part-time work and my confidence has improved and it’s all thanks to A and I can’t thank her enough. This service is brilliant, very helpful, without it I would not cope.


Learn more about IPS

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