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Autism unit builds new structure thanks to Trust charity

Posted: 24/03/21

An autism ward has built a new structure for family visits after needing to find a space for families to meet during lockdown.

Thanks to Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s charity, The SHINE Fund, Mitford Unit at Northgate Hospital in Morpeth is now able to provide service users and their families with a place to meet outside of the ward.

During the pandemic when families were not able to visit their loved ones on the ward, a gazebo had been set up in the grounds. It wasn’t long before this blew away in the wind and the team knew a longer-term solution needed to be found.

After applying for funding, work has been completed on a structure where families can spend time together outside of the ward environment.

Katie Ballance, Nurse Specialist at CNTW, said: “Mitford is a national service with patients from all over the UK, as far as London, Belfast and Inverness. It was such a shame to see families who had travelled so far not be able to come inside, especially with our unpredictable North East weather.

“While restrictions were in place we had to think outside the box to allow families to still be able to visit and we’re pleased to have something positive come out of the virus that will benefit our service users.

“The building means families will be able to relax and do things that any family would do. Many have said they haven’t been able to sit outside and chat with their son or daughter for years because they’ve spent the majority of their lives in hospitals or institutions.”

Mitford provides a service to adults who are on the autism spectrum. The unit has been purpose-built and designed for people who need highly specialised care. Mitford has a strong focus on working with families and carers to get people back home as soon as possible.

The space will also fit in with autism needs; there are plans to add sensory lights so that it can be used in the evening.

The SHINE Fund makes a huge difference to the experience of people who are cared for in CNTW hospital sites and community services in the North East and north Cumbria. It has supported patients with everything from horse riding outings to gardening tools, and even Christmas decorations to brighten up wards.

Money from the funds is used to provide ‘little extras’ that make a big difference to peoples’ recovery and mental wellbeing.

Find out more about the SHINE Fund here.

CNTW is a leading provider of mental health and disability services in the North East and north Cumbria.