Developing Older People's Services in Tiverton

Posted on 26th January, 2011

During the early part of December 2010, Devon Partnership NHS Trust took the decision to cease new admissions to the Melrose Unit in Tiverton, which provides services for older people with organic mental health needs, such as dementia. The decision was made following consultation with the commissioners of the service and other stakeholders, including local GPs.  The three main reasons underpinning the decision were:

  • The identification of a number of staffing issues at the unit, including the need for staff training and development and the need to deliver high quality medical cover
  • The urgent need to improve some basic aspects of the physical environment at the unit, in order to ensure high levels of safety and infection control
  • Concerns raised by local GPs about some aspects of the service at the unit, including long lengths of stay, difficulty in getting people seen and assessed quickly and a lack of integration with other local health and social care services.
Appropriate alternative arrangements were made for the small number of people on the unit and this process was completed on 24 December 2010, at which time the service was suspended.  Current Position and Next Steps
The Trust’s original intention was to suspend the inpatient service at the Melrose Unit for no longer than 12 weeks, allowing time for much of the necessary improvement work to be undertaken to the physical environment on the unit, for staff development issues to be addressed and for discussions with local GPs and other stakeholders, about the future use of the unit. Staff from the Melrose Unit have been temporarily redeployed into other local mental health services and are also working hard to address training and development needs.  Although the inpatient service has been suspended, outpatient appointments are still taking place at the unit to provide assessments, diagnosis and treatment. Work has commenced on some aspects of the physical environment, including the replacement of flooring and windows.  We expect to meet with GPs and commissioning colleagues from NHS Devon very soon, to review the older people’s mental health service that was previously provided at Melrose and to consider how it might be developed and improved to best meet the needs of local people.  We then plan to have a public meeting to discuss the options that are available to develop and improve the service, and to listen to people’s views, suggestions and concerns.  We hope to have a firm date for this meeting shortly. The Trust is confident that major steps can be taken towards finalising the future model of care at Melrose within the 12 week period and we remain committed to re-opening the unit – in some form – within this timeframe, as long as it is safe and practical to do so.  Once re-opened, the expectation is that the service will be closely monitored and evolve based on the experience and learning that emerge from new and different ways of working.