Young people and carers no longer have to travel to Cambridge or Chelmsford after Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust launched a new purpose-built inpatient ward this week in Oulton, near Lowestoft.
The eight-bed unit, named No. 5, will be used - and has been shaped - by young people who need more support with any mental health problems, including eating disorders, than they can receive at home.
Last year, the Trust’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) consulted young people who had been inpatients in other units and their carers about their experiences and to give their views about what information and support should be available and even how No. 5 should look.
One priority was to provide study facilities and more activities, which have been met by the inclusion of separate education block, staffed by qualified teachers and an activity programme designed in close co-operation with the young people.
Also on the young people’s wishlist was more information about their medication and treatment, so a pharmacist will be a regular visitor to the unit so answer any questions they may have.
Young people will even be involved in the recruitment process by sitting on an interview panel to ensure that youth workers, social workers and nurses are perfect fits for the new ward’s ethos and atmosphere.
The unit has been designed specifically so that it looks and feels more like home rather than a hospital, after young people chose the colour scheme and furniture. Better food will also be on the menu, as the new unit has its own housekeeper and kitchen so that meals will be cooked fresh every day.
Upon leaving No.5, inpatients will have access to an intensive support team to ensure their return to every day life is a smooth one and help safeguard against readmission.
Aidan Thomas, Chief Executive. Maggie Wheeler, Chair.Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT).