The raft of specialist rehabilitation and support offered to people who come into contact with the criminal justice system while experiencing mental health problems has been showcased to a leading MP.
Staff from Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) welcomed Norman Lamb, MP for North Norfolk, to the Norvic Clinic, in Norwich, which is a medium secure service caring for men with conditions such as bipolar, schizophrenia and psychosis.
Mr Lamb, who is the Liberal Democrat spokesman for health, began Thursday’s (21 September) visit by touring the building and meeting staff and patients on an inpatient ward, who told him more about the care they receive.
He then visited the site’s workshop, where service users take part in practical projects such as metal work and woodwork, before going to the Mount, which is a recreational and vocational space where people can pursue their interests and develop a range of skills. This includes growing vegetables, looking after chickens and completing mechanical projects, as well as learning practical skills to help them find a job following their discharge, such as tiling and plumbing.
Mr Lamb completed the afternoon by finding out more about an onsite shop run by service users, which stocks essentials such as toiletries, food and drinks, as well as a £2.2m project to redevelop NSFT’s secure services, which began in the summer.
Dr Julie Parker, Lead Clinician with NSFT’s Forensic Mental Health Services, helped to organise the visit. She said: “We were delighted to welcome Mr Lamb to the Norvic Clinic. As well as meeting some of our staff and service users, his visit also gave us the opportunity to showcase the wide range of activities which take place on site every day.
“This includes practical activities such as developing plumbing, tiling and mechanical skills, as well as our new shop, which for some service users is the start of a vocational pathway which will help them find employment following their discharge.
“We are very proud of the services we provide and were really pleased to be given the chance to share this good practice more widely.”
Mr Lamb said: “I was immensely impressed by the people I met and what I saw. I was blown away by the atmosphere and the extreme dedication of the people involved.
“Four years ago when I was a health minister, I issued guidance aimed at reducing the use of force in mental health units. Restraint, including face down restraint, has been very heavily used in many mental health wards.
“I was therefore thrilled to see data at the Norvic showing significant reductions in the use of restraint, including face down restraint. Use of seclusion is also down and the number of incidents overall are down. This is an incredibly encouraging trend.”
Note to editors: The £2.2m redevelopment project will see the Norvic Clinic reconfigured into a three-ward facility with integrated seclusion facilities.
The changes will help NSFT manage demand for secure services more effectively while also improving facilities for patients by providing extra en suite bedrooms and a more modern environment. Increasing the size of the wards will also make them easier to staff and increase their sustainability.
The year-long project comes as part of a wider £3.85 million redesign of NSFT’s secure services. So far, low and medium secure female services have been amalgamated, while an additional five low secure male beds have opened at Foxhall House in Ipswich.
As part of the transformation, the total number of secure beds provided by the Trust will increase from 80 to 82.
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