Background: Organizational culture is manifest in patterns of behaviour underpinned by beliefs, values, attitudes and assumptions, which can influence working practices. Cultural factors and working practices have been suggested to influence the transition of young people moving from child to adult mental health services. Failure to manage and integrate transitional care effectively can lead to young people losing contact with health and social care systems, resulting in adverse effects on health, well-being and potential.
Methods: The study aim was to identify the organisational factors which facilitate or impede transition of young people from child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to adult mental health services (AMHS) from the perspective of health professionals and representatives of voluntary organisations. Specific objectives were (i) to explore organizational cultures, structures, processes and resources which influence transition from child to adult mental health services; (ii) identify factors which constitute barriers and facilitators to transition and continuity of care and (iii) make recommendations for service improvements. Within an exploratory, qualitative design thirty four semi-structured interviews were conducted with health and social care professionals working in CAMHS and AMHS in four NHS Mental Health Trusts and four voluntary organizations, in England.
Results: A cultural divide appears to exist between CAMHS and AMHS, characterized by different beliefs, attitudes, mutual misperceptions and a lack of understanding of different service structures. This is exacerbated by working practices relating to communication and information transfer which could impact negatively on transition, relational, informational and cross boundary continuity of care. There is also evidence of a cultural shift, with some positive approaches to collaborative working across services and agencies, involving joint posts, parallel working, shared clinics and joint meetings.
Conclusions: Cultural factors embodied in mutual misperceptions, attitudes, beliefs exist between CAMHS and AMHS. Working practices can exert either positive or negative effects on transition and continuity of care. Implementation of shared education and training, standardised approaches to record keeping and information transfer, supported by compatible IT resources are recommended, alongside management strategies which evaluate the achievement of outcomes related to transition and continuity of care.