We are a regional inpatient CAMHS unit for 13-18 year olds who were previously based in two separate wards across Chester in unsuitable facilities, a converted house and a former older persons ward in an adult hospital. After being granted funding in a joint project with CWP and Ryhurst we started on the journey of building a new purpose built hospital. We started with meeting with the young people and exploring what their needs were in a hospital and drawing up a wish list, all ideas were included and even the more imaginative were drilled down until we found what the young people really wanted. The young people met with the architects and design team and worked on ideas together and created their own models in design workshops with the design team. The young people were involved in all aspects of the process.
Winners - National CYPMH Awards 2019
From start: Yes
During process: Yes
In evaluation: Yes
PP Collaborative: Yes
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clair josting moulder - participation lead - CWP NHS Foundation Trust
We are a regional inpatient CAMHS unit for 13-18 year olds who were previously based in two separate wards across Chester in unsuitable facilities, a converted house and a former older persons ward in an adult hospital. After being granted funding in a joint project with CWP and Ryhurst we started on the journey of building a new purpose built hospital. We started with meeting with the young people and exploring what their needs were in a hospital and drawing up a wish list, all ideas were included and even the more imaginative were drilled down until we found what the young people really wanted. The young people met with the architects and design team and worked on ideas together and created their own models in design workshops with the design team. The young people were involved in all aspects of the process, from the initial site visit when they ran the perimeter of what was then just a grassy field to multiple site visits to see if their plans were being followed. As part of TakeOver Day the young people took over the site and ran a site meeting, held a Q&A session in the new build and choose the colours and painted the bedrooms. The young people worked on colour schemes designing thier own mood boards and coming up with new and exciting concepts. As well as being an integral part of the design and build sessions were run to explore different careers within the building industry and sessions were run weekly on site, the most popular being the architect session and learning how to build 3D images. The young people helped design the outdoor areas and planted trees in the country park and helped create the wild flower meadow and wetland areas.
The young people held “Chairfest” in which they were able to try and choose what furniture they wanted in the new hospital. Thr young people also ran a competition to name the new build with the winning entry coming from a former inpatient, Ancora from the Latin (we are a Roman city) meaning hope, refuge and support. Competitions were also ran to name the two new wards and Indigo and Coral were the winning names. The young people also learnt new skills graffitting the hoardings around the building site and designed and painted the large wooden boards, they were even keen to show off and teach their skills to local MP Chris Matheson when he came to visit the launch of the project. The young people also made a video to show young people who were unable to visit the site. so many young people were involved in the project over the 2 years in so many different ways. We finally moved into Ancora House in September 2016 and have seen such a difference to the service we provide, the amount of outside space including horticultural therapy garden where the young people are growing their own vegetables, the addition of rabbits in the garden to help with therapy, we have a chicken garden which enables the young people to look after and care for small animals. We have a gym in the building and are able to offer individualised health and fitness programmes to help with physical as well as mental health. We have a sports pitch which the young people are able to play 5 a side football, badminton, tennis, netball and basketball on.
The short stay school is now in the same building allowing access for all, the state of the art facilities are equipped to A level standard, we have a science lab complete with gas taps and a fume cupboard, the English room has a green screen to enable film making and helps with the annual Christmas film, written, directed and filmed by the young people. The young people also are able to have outdoor education in our garden area with a gazebo designed by the young people and horticultural area for planting and growing in science and PHSE sessions. The young people are able sit GCSE and A level exams in Ancora House. The Den is an amazing space designed by the young people as a multi-purpose space for film nights, relaxation sessions, yoga, mindfulness and other activities. The Sanctuary is a space for meditation and includes a teepee, sensory lights, aromatherapy oils, ambient music and is widely used by the young people. The building has so much space and light and really needs to be seen to be fully understood.
Wider Active Support
we work with various organisations to support our work including other health Trusts, CCG’s, Local Councils, The Land Trust, Friends of Countess Health Park,
From day 1 we involved young people, parents and carers and staff and highlights of their suggestions include the visitor areas including reception and visitor rooms, the bedrooms which the young people designed mood changing lights so they can personalise their space and have now taken it a step further and are using the lights as traffic light signals to communicate to staff how they are feeling. Staff were keen to help with improving observation without feeling intrusive and the shape of the corridors and location of the staff base help overcome these issues We held meetings on the wards to discuss the project and work with the young people, the young people attended meetings with the architects, designers, building company, they regularly met to look at the plans and visited the site to see their ideas in action, the young people held Q&A sessions and helped create and support the development of the hospital. They collaborated on every aspect of the building and their ideas were used fully. We continue to develop new ways of working in our new building, the young people wanted to spend more time outside in the Country Park and we now hold a weekly Forest School session in the country park in which our hospital sits, we have worked with the Land Trust and local council to have a special area which is ours within the park to be used for Forest School, this means the young people are able get outside in the fresh air and learn new skills including den building and fire lighting in a safe environment whilst building confidence and improving self esteem, learning how to work as a team.
The young people also wanted to spend time with older people and now we are in the grounds of the health park we are able to hold a weekly intergenerational meeting with the older people from Bowmere Hospital who have dementia. The young people requested to meet up with the older people in The Oasis on site café and we now hold weekly sessions with both age groups coming together and sitting and chatting and enjoying each others company. We bring activities that both age groups can enjoy and share in from making craft items, quizzes, Easter bonnet competition are just a few examples. The young people also decided in the Listen Up group to make fidget blankets as Christmas presents for the older people and researched, designed and created the blankets to give out at the Christmas meeting. The young people really care for the older people and it has helped to break down stigma and barriers between both age groups and mental health. Neither Forest School or Afternoon Tea with the older people would have been possible if we had not been in Ancora House and would not have happened without the hard work of the young people.
Looking Back/Challenges Faced
In the design of such a light and airy space we did not think of the issues of sound and although this is being addressed in hindsight we could have thought about the impact during the build. The young people have requested for sound to be absorbed and so we have sound absorbers placed around the building.
We hold collaborative meetings weekly called Listen Up group and the young people are able to discuss any environmental issues and develop ideas to improve our service.
Evaluation (Peer or Academic)
We now have a fabulous welcoming building which gives space and safety to our young people to help them recover, it has increased accessibility with all communal and bedroom areas on the ground floor, and lifts to the short stay school and garden ensuring there are no barriers to any of our young people accessing all areas.
We share best practice in our own trust via our Big Book of Best Practice, we also promote our work via social media, we have a website called MyMind and also use twitter and instagram
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