A mental health unit has been recognised for its work with children and young people.
Ferndene in Prudhoe, part of Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW), has been awarded an Investing in Children (IiC) Award which celebrates examples of imaginative and inclusive practice with children and young people.
One of 500 members across the UK and Ireland, Ferndene had to demonstrate how dialogue with young people has led to changes in the service. Service users also had to provide evidence for the unit.
Led by advanced occupational therapist Susan Graham and specialist activities education coordinator Eddy Wilkinson, Ferndene was required to submit a report showing examples of where improvements have been made after listening to the children and young people on the unit.
“We have to make sure our service users are included in the design and delivery of the services,” Susan explained. “For example, the young people said they wanted more choice of food and a greater range of activities which were taken on board.”
The process involved an assessor visiting the wards who spoke to the young people, peer supporters and teachers from Newcastle Bridges School.
Young people at Ferndene have been involved in a number of initiatives including interviews for CNTW’s new Lotus Ward and the Trust’s CEDAR project.
Susan has stressed the importance of young people having their say. “If we want them to engage in services, asking their opinion is a must. Whether it’s on an individual level, discussing their own care plans, or helping with changes in the wider service.
“Asking their opinion helps them feel recognised and valued by staff who care for them.”
In the report, one service user was asked about his experience on the unit. He said: “Everyone is extremely nice. They always listen and speak in a caring way and try to do the things you ask.”
For Susan, gaining the award is recognition of the hard work both staff and service users have put in. The award will last for a year and will need to be renewed.
Investing in Children (IiC) is an initiative that promotes the human rights of children and young people. It has developed a range of different ways in which children and young people are supported to say what they want to say, and help to improve services used by them, by discussing their ideas with those who run the services.
Ferndene, based in Prudhoe, provides inpatient assessment and treatment for young people with complex health, behavioural and emotional needs including those with a learning disability. It provides living accommodation, educational, therapeutic and leisure spaces.