Two hundred years ago, mental health patients faced being locked away in asylums. The Retreat in York challenged thinking when it became the first institution to treat them with dignity and respect.
Established in 1796, The Retreat is a charitable, not-for-profit organisation that is owned and run by Christian movement The Quakers. It works closely with the NHS to support patients with complex needs, ranging from dementia and brain injuries to eating and personality disorders.
At the start of 2017 it faced serious financial challenges and was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC). With a centuries-old legacy under threat, it needed its own course of treatment.
The HEART of the matter
Deloitte was commissioned to review The Retreat’s finances and patient services. Work took place over eight weeks, between December and February.
Dr Christine Armistead, Financial Advisory Director within our Health Transactions and Restructuring team says: “Initially, we didn’t know what the future held as the organisation was making a loss, but everyone was very keen that there would be a future. It was important to keep some level of services and expertise going.”
A specialist Health, Economics and Restructuring Transactions team – HEART – assessed the charity’s strategy. It brought together clinicians, operational managers, accountants and economists. Meanwhile, experts from Restructuring Services looked at the finances.
During a second project phase, the cross service line team, supported by Risk Advisory colleagues, researched and recommended alternative care options – everything from retiring in-patient services to partnerships with the public and private sectors.
Restructurings are often marked by poor performance and companies need to make difficult choices. This project, however, had to be carried out with sensitivity, care and respect for the Quakers’ values.
A clean bill of health
The Retreat has seen an improvement in its CQC rating - rising from inadequate to good, and it is now on the road to recovery with a clearer strategic vision.
The charity occupies an important place in the history of psychiatry. As attitudes towards mental health continue to evolve, it is critical that organisations like this are able to offer patients a voice.
Clare Boardman, Financial Advisory Partner and project lead, says: “With our insight and recommendations, The Retreat now has greater clarity around its medium to long-term future and knows how to identify savings in the short-term. It can make informed choices, improving the quality of its service provision and continuing to support those who rely on its care.”