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Dragonfly Unit

  • The Dragonfly Unit is a general adolescent psychiatric unit that has general psychiatric beds and eating disorder beds. The service is for young people who are experiencing an acute mental health disorder that cannot be safely managed in a community setting.

  • Service Manager Lead: Karen Newberry (Matron)
  • Service Contact: Telephone the ward on 01502 527400
  • Address:
    Dragonfly Unit,  Carlton Court,  St Peter’s Road,  Carlton Colville, Lowestoft, NR33 8AG
  • Service hours: This ward is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

What this service offers

This service opened in September 2016 and was developed as a centre of excellence so that we can provide more specialist care closer to home, in turn reducing the number of 13 to 18-year-olds who need to travel out of the area for treatment.   

The Dragonfly Unit offers services to young people in crisis with serious mental health conditions. However, there will be young people who require more specialised care in other adolescent psychiatric units in England.  

The Dragonfly Unit also has an education provision which caters for all ages. 

Once a referral has been received the young person will be assessed by their community team and a referral made for an inpatient bed.  

The referral will be assessed by the Dragonfly Unit and a decision will be made on the appropriateness of an admission and whether it is in the young person's best interest.  

If a suitable bed is not available at the Dragonfly Unit, other inpatient Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service provisions will be identified.  

People who are admitted to the Dragonfly Unit should bring several changes of clothes, including pyjamas (please ensure these are appropriate), along with toiletries and sanitary products. They may also like to bring more personal items such as a dressing gown, slippers, photos (no frames), cuddly toys, books, posters and sensory items. Valuable items are discouraged from being brought onto the unit. Any electrical items bought on to the unit have to be tested by an electrician before use.  

Our patients are provided with their own box that is kept in the nursing office where belongings such as mobile phone chargers, hairdryers, straighteners, aerosols and glass items (i.e. nail varnish, make up bottles, and perfume) can be safely kept. These items will have to be singed in and out on each use.  

On admission and returning from leave, all belongings will be searched by a member of staff to ensure no prohibited items are brought onto the ward.   

Laundry facilities are available and will be explained upon admission.  

Dragonfly Unit meal times are:  

  • Breakfast 8:00 to 8:45  

  • Lunch 12:30 to 13:15  

  • Tea 17:30 to 18:15  

  • Supper 20:00 to 20:30.

Access this service

Referrals to the Dragonfly Unit are made via the Children and Adolescents Mental Health Service (CAMHS) Tier 3 and Crisis team.  

To be considered for referral individuals must:  

  • be between 13 and 18 years of age,  

  • have an acute presentation that cannot be managed in a community setting,  

  • be consenting to admission or detained under the Mental Health Act,  

  • have a care co-ordinator allocated.  

The current NHS England referral form needs to be fully completed electronically and then sent to the Dragonfly Unit team. The referrer should contact the unit prior to doing this. This is to ensure that the referral form is sent to the appropriate staff members on shift, as all referrals are assessed by the Dragonfly management team and require approval before a bed search can commence.   

The Dragonfly team do not undertake the bed search; in Norfolk and Waveney the Bed Management Team will undertake this once clinicians have telephoned them to discuss the referral requirements.  

If the young person has a learning disability (including autistic spectrum disorders) or a neurodevelopmental disorder, they must have a Care Education and Treatment Review before a referral can be made.  

Visiting and onsite facilities

The Dragonfly Unit is wheelchair accessible and provides disabled parking at the front of the building. All parking is free onsite.  

Visitors are welcomed to the unit on weekdays between 15:30 and 17:30 and between 18:30 and 20:00.  

All visitors under the age of 18 must be chaperoned.  

How this service support carers including friends and family

Our Dragonfly Unit team encourages carers involvement in all aspects of care and may offer, if appropriate, systemic family therapy.   

The team has a social worker who can signpost carers to outside agencies or work directly with families.    

The Dragonfly Unit also offers psychoeducational training and holds regular carer’s groups.   

Soon after a young person is admitted a carer’s communication plan is completed and this includes the needs of the whole family.  

Urgent help

If you are under the care of the Dragonfly Unit and need urgent assistance you should telephone 01502 527400. 

Call 111 and select the mental health option to speak to our 24 hour mental health crisis line.

If you are with someone who has attempted suicide, call 999 and stay with them until the ambulance arrives. 

If anyone is at serious risk of harm, call 999 and ask for the police. 

For non-life threatening medical situations, call NHS111 on 111.  

For more information, see Help in a Crisis

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