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Young people's unit celebrates successful year in new facility

​A specialist children and young people’s service celebrated the difference its new purpose-built Dragonfly Unit is making to service users as it marked its first anniversary this month.

The seven-bed unit, based at Carlton Court, near Lowestoft, is a young person’s general admission ward. It offers short term inpatient stays to boys and girls who cannot safely be supported in the community, and who conditions such as depression, anxiety, psychosis and eating disorders.

Run by Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (NSFT) the unit invited guests in yesterday (Thursday 28 September) to see for themselves the facilities and work that goes on at the Dragonfly. Young people currently using the unit held guided tours and former service users and their families came along to support the event which celebrated mental health recovery.

The Dragonfly opened its doors in September 2016 and has treated around 30 young people so far, as well as supporting their families and carers.

Linda Stevens, Clinical Team Leader at the Dragonfly Unit: “Often when young people enter this service, they are in acute distress so maintaining their support network is vital in ensuring their stay is the least disruptive we can make it. That is why this new unit, with the hugely improved facilities, and room for visiting families and carers, has been vital to offering an improved outcome for our young people.

“As well as the seven en suite bedrooms, we have three school rooms, a gym to boost young people’s recovery, and a fully equipped therapy suite.

“Group therapy is important for the social interaction of our young people and isolation can be detrimental to their recovery. So all of these specialised facilities have enabled us to better structure and plan the therapies we offer and use the space for group work.”

Local schools and colleges, and other partner organisations, attended the open day including East Coast College.

“It’s crucial we maintain good links with the local schools and colleges which young people attend before they come to us, so that when they return to the community, there is understanding about the young person’s mental health condition and the support is in place,” explained Linda.

The unit received a positive Quality Network for Inpatient CAMHS review in March with notes made about its positive therapeutic ethos and approach to care.

Alex Barrett, Occupational Therapist at the unit, said: “Many of our service users are teenagers and it is important for their self-esteem and dignity that they maintain some privacy with their own rooms and have a calm space to de-escalate when they are unwell.

“But we also make good use of the larger environment, particularly the occupational therapy activities room and kitchen. Families can even bring food in and cook with their young person to share a family meal. And we have a room for families to stay overnight if that is necessary.

“We try to do anything we can to make the Dragonfly as safe and homely for our young people as we can, while working with them to get better, so their mental health can really improve in a well-cared for environment.”

For more information about the services provided by the Dragonfly Unit, visit:

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