Older people’s unit opens after £1.5m refurbishment

Posted on 13th September, 2011

Devon Partnership NHS Trust has announced the opening of the Beech Unit in Torbay following a £1.5m refurbishment.  Formerly known as the Fernworthy Unit, Beech Unit is located on the Torbay Hospital site and has 14 beds.  It will provide assessment, care and treatment for older people with the most severe mental health needs. Commenting on the opening, the Trust’s Co-Medical Director and consultant psychiatrist on Beech Unit, Dr David Somerfield, said:  “Those of us that have worked in south Devon for many years have waited a long time to have a state-of-the-art facility in which to care for older people with the highest levels of need and most challenging behaviour.  Our staff have always done a sterling job but their dedication and commitment has, until now, not been matched by the quality of the physical environment in which they have had to work. “The Beech Unit will enable us to provide high quality care in a modern, purpose-built environment.  It will ensure people’s privacy and dignity and has some lovely large outdoor areas – which are extremely important in looking after older people.  In addition, the unit’s proximity to our two other mental health wards on the site provides additional safety, as specialist staff are on-hand to provide support very quickly if and when needed.” While the refurbishment of Beech Unit has been taking place, the Trust has been continuing to use Brunel Lodge in Newton Abbot to provide assessment and treatment for older people from south Devon with mental health needs.  This service and the staff team will now transfer to the new unit in Torbay.  The staff have been working with the people currently using the Brunel Lodge service, and their families and carers, to ensure a smooth transition to Beech Unit or other appropriate local care alternatives.
Continuing, Dr Somerfield said:  “The team at Brunel Lodge has been doing a wonderful job but they have been working in an outdated building which is no longer fit for its purpose.  It is also very isolated.  In these respects it has none of the advantages of the new Beech Unit.  This view is supported by the Care Quality Commission, which reported earlier this year that Brunel Lodge’s layout is unsuitable in terms of meeting the new national guidelines around privacy, dignity and single-sex accommodation. “We are very confident that these new arrangements will deliver an even better service.  Our model of care is based on the best possible range and depth of community services to support the ever-increasing number of older people who have some form of mental health need.  Working with other health and social care agencies, we need to deliver excellent care at home or close to home – and I believe we are doing this in many areas.  To support the most severely unwell people and those with the most challenging behaviour, who account for a tiny percentage of the overall number, we also need first-rate inpatient services – and we have spent £5m in developing these. “For a very small number of people (there are currently four people in Brunel Lodge from the Teignbridge area) the transfer of the inpatient service to Torbay will mean further to travel and we acknowledge this concern.  For others, however, the service for will now be closer to home.   “Community services in Teignbridge are already very good and there are some exciting new developments which will further bolster the quality and depth of the service we provide.  We have recently appointed a new consultant psychiatrist for the area; we are about to pilot an additional memory clinic in Newton Abbot (to deliver early assessment, diagnosis and intervention) and we are about to move off the old hospital site into new premises in the town.  “In addition, our specialist mental health staff liaise with staff at Newton Abbot Hospital to provide advice and expertise in caring for those people who have both physical and mental health needs.  We have given a commitment to see if anything further can be done to enhance this support.” The opening of the new unit in Torbay as part of the Trust’s ongoing plans to improve older people’s mental health services is supported by NHS Devon and the Strategic Health Authority.  It will deliver: • Vastly improved facilities that meet all clinical and safety guidelines and regulations
• Individual rooms and enhanced privacy and dignity
• A purpose-built, modern, comfortable and therapeutic environment
• Close proximity to other specialist mental health staff, enhancing safety and security
• Excellent outdoor areas. For the last year, the Trust has been meeting with a group that includes representatives from Teignbridge District Council, the local MP’s office, Senior Council for Devon and the private care sector to talk about the plans and to discuss how it can provide the best possible local service for the area within the funds available.  The Trust will now be working with the group, NHS Devon and other local commissioners to engage a wider group of people from the local community to take forward the discussion about the continued improvement of local mental health services.