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Service user leads celebration to open transformed unit

​A ribbon-cutting ceremony has taken place to celebrate the completion of a three-year £2.2m project to transform secure facilities for service users on the outskirts of Norwich.

The ceremony, which was carried out by Jonathan Warren, Chief Executive of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) and a service user, marked the formal opening of Northside House, a unit previously known as The Norvic Clinic.

Run by NSFT and located at St Andrews Business Park, Thorpe St Andrew, staff there provide treatment for men detained under the Mental Health Act who often have a forensic background and require an area of low or medium security for assessment, treatment and rehabilitation.

The opening ceremony took place during a carers open day for the Trust’s Secure Services at Northside House. Carers open days are held annually for the families of service users.

Among the guests at the ceremony were Ian Young, Associate Director; Dawn Collins, Deputy Chief Nurse; Denise Grimes, Head of Participation & Partnership; Mark Earthrowl, Lead Clinician; Karen Clements, Head of Service; Andy Harris, Service Manager; and Chris Strivens, Matron and Head of Clinical Practice.

Howard Muzire, Deputy Matron at Northside House, said: “This extensive transformation took place in phases during a period lasting just over three years.

“The facilities have been significantly improved which is important because many service users may remain here for several years while we work with them in their recovery journey in mental health.

“Providing care from a comfortable environment also encourages more effective relationships with staff, which can help to diffuse any potentially difficult situations which may arise."

Mr Muzire said that a total of 17 carers attended the open day, which was a successful event. Afterwards, one of the carers emailed feedback to say: “l found all the team members to be incredibly friendly and helpful. It was an insightful day, being the first one I’ve ever attended and hearing stories from other service users and carers. Certainly felt like I was not on my own.”

The Norvic Clinic changed its name to Northside House on 1 January this year after service users and staff were invited to suggest a new name before being given the opportunity to vote for the winner from a shortlist.

Parts of the facility were completely refurbished and the space rejigged during the improvement project, with the original five wards transformed into three larger wards with integrated seclusion facilities.

NSFT’s Secure Services received an overall rating of Good in the CQC inspection report published in November last year.

The transformation project at Northside House was part of a wider £3.85m redesign of NSFT’s Secure Services which has seen its total number of secure beds increase by two to 82.

Low and medium secure female services have been amalgamated, while an additional four low secure male beds opened at Foxhall House, Ipswich, in 2017.

Caption: A service user and NSFT Chief Executive Jonathan Warren cut a ribbon to formally mark the opening of Northside House.

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