Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) opened Lotus Ward, a 10-bed inpatient unit at Acklam Road Hospital providing mental health care for young people aged 13-18 years, on 5 April.
Lotus Ward will offer specialist care and treatment 24/7, 365 days a year to young people who have complex mental health needs.
CNTW has a long history of providing CAMHS services across the North East. In September 2020 the Trust received a formal request from NHS England and Improvement to establish a CAMHS inpatient unit in Teesside.
There is enormous pressure on specialist mental health inpatient services for young people at the moment, and when children and young people have to be sent out of area for mental health support this can be distressing for them and their families. This is why re-establishing Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) beds in Teesside is so important.John LawlorChief Executive at CNTW
After receiving agreement from the Trust’s Board, CNTW formed a group to lead the mobilisation of the new service which included representation from CNTW, Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV), the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and NHS England and Improvement. CNTW have also held conversations with the directors of children’s services in Durham and Darlington as part of the mobilisation programme.
Extensive work has been done to engage with service users and their families/carers to design the new service, to integrate it with CNTW’s existing systems and procedures, and set it up for a safe and timely launch on 5 April.
This has included a rigorous recruitment process, involving interviews with CNTW staff and panels of service users focussed on how well candidates’ values aligned with those of CNTW as well as practical assessments.
Gary O’Hare, Executive Director of Nursing and Chief Operating Officer at CNTW, said: “We place the utmost importance on the safety of our services users and staff. There have been many months of rigorous work done to ensure that this service will be working using best practices in line with our high standards of safety and effectiveness.
“We have undertaken an open, values-based recruitment process to ensure we are getting the best staff to deliver a high quality, safe service. We have also invested significant time into the induction of new staff for this service.”
The ward itself has been refurbished ahead of the service opening. The ward offers young people access to three private outdoor spaces, a gymnasium, dedicated activity rooms, and classrooms for the education which will be provided by River Tees Multi-Academy Trust. All of these things will be vital to promote young peoples’ independence and recovery.
Lotus Ward will also benefit from the latest safety systems, including a nurse call system throughout and an Oxehealth patient safety system in each room, enabling staff to remotely monitor young people’s movement, respiration, and other physical measures of wellbeing.
Lotus flowers are a symbol of regeneration, and the ward name was chosen following research and engagement with young people being treated on Ferndene and Alnwood, CNTW’s two existing specialist CAMHS inpatient units.
The ward will officially open on 5 April, subject to the necessary CQC approval and NHS registrations being in place. Lotus Ward will be managed by CNTW’s Specialist CAMHS Clinical Business Unit, led by a team of senior and highly experienced clinicians specialising in various areas of young peoples’ mental health.
No patients will be admitted in first few weeks following the ward’s official opening. Instead, the service team will carry out a range of scenario-based exercises to test out every element of the new ward environment and how the service will operate, from clinical scenarios to practical issues such as ensuring equipment and fittings work as expected.
Following this initial ‘test period,’ admissions onto the ward will be staggered, building up to the service working at its full 10-bed capacity.
Gary O’Hare explained, “We are taking this staggered approach to ensure that the service is delivered as safely and effectively as possible.
“We’re aiming to balance taking on new admissions with bringing patients back to the region who are currently placed for treatment out-of-area.”
Gary added, “Throughout this process we have met and worked closely with patients’ families, MPs, the local Healthwatch organisations, and others – and that offer to meet and have a conversation is still there for anyone who wants it.
“We will continue to work closely with service users and their families, as well as other stakeholders, and are committed to providing high quality services for those who need them.”