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Dane Garth, a state of the art mental health care facility in Barrow, was officially opened by MP John Woodcock on Friday This week patients will move into the new dementia assessment unit (Ramsey Unit), marking the completion of the Dane Garth development. Dane Garth will transform the delivery of mental health care in Furness and South Lakes.
Cheryl Bell, Ramsey Unit Manager, from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust, said: “I am excited about the move to Ramsey Unit. The whole unit has been planned with the patients in mind – it is innovatively designed to help people with dementia. Features such as the memory boxes outside each bedroom, which patients can fill with personal photographs and items, are a wonderful way to help patients familiarise themselves with their environment whilst personalising their room. This new unit offers great opportunities for both staff and patients.”
After unveiling the plaque Mr Woodcock, MP for Barrow and Furness, said: “It was a privilege to be asked to open this modern unit that will be of enormous benefit to our community.
“Whatever the wider crisis of care we are facing as our population ages, Dane Garth staff work incredibly hard looking after dementia sufferers who need special care.
“This £6.5m investment will transform in-patient facilities in south Cumbria.”
The first phase of the Dane Garth involved developing an in-patient facility for adults experiencing acute mental illness (Dova Unit). This saw the replacement of the old-style 20 bedded dormitory ward with 20 single en-suite rooms in an environment designed to speed up recovery rates and reduce the stigma associated with mental ill health.
Phase 2 of the development provided a state of the art dementia assessment unit (Ramsey Unit). In a move agreed in the 2008 public consultation into mental health services, the existing dementia assessment unit at Gill Rise in Ulverston will move to Dane Garth to allow mental health care services to share high quality facilities and specialist staff. This will also improve the ability of the unit to cope with complex and challenging behaviour, limiting the need for patients to travel to Carlisle or further afield. The Trust is expected to make a decision on the building later this year.
The new dementia assessment unit features numerous state of the art facilities, including a Mediwell medication cabinet, a computerised system for storing and dispensing medication. It has individual drawers for each patient, allowing for a more person-centred approach, and automatically orders medication direct from the pharmacy when required. This saves nursing staff hours each week, time which can now be spent on patient care.
The design of the unit incorporates many features to help people suffering from dementia. Each patient has a ‘memory box’ mounted on the wall next to their bedroom door. They can put important sentimental items into the boxes to personalise them – such as wedding photographs, small soft toys, pictures of grandchildren and so on. This helps people with dementia to orientate themselves to their surroundings, feel safer, and promotes memories. Patients can also choose the pictures they have on the wall. Each room has blank frames, and patients can decide what they would like on their bedroom wall from a ‘Picture Library’.
Throughout the unit are wall mounted activities designed specifically for those with dementia, such as noughts and crosses. They are colourful and interactive. The artwork on the ward is also designed to stimulate memories – such as images of Laurel and Hardy and historic images of docks in Barrow by artist John Duffin. The pictures were chosen by the patients on Gill Rise at the time of design.
There is a sensory room on the unit for when patients become agitated. The room promotes relaxation with different lights and textures to stimulate patients, including aromatherapy. The disabled bathroom features a hair washing area, and a vanity unit area where patients can do their make up or brush their hair. This allows patients to retain their privacy and dignity.
The Dane Garth project team have worked closely with other organisations to bring the unit to life. In partnership with the Cumbria Wildlife Trust a ‘living wall’ has been designed – a large wall covered in plants in an outdoor area on the unit. It encourages patients to go outside and to use their senses – such as sight and smell.
Also outside is the ‘willow arbour’, in the sensory garden. This was grown and constructed with help from 20-30 volunteers – past and present service users. The first part of the project involved growing and harvesting the willow, the second part was the construction of the arbour. Volunteers from Barrow Sixth Form College, Croftlands Trust, and Jubilee House Day Centre helped construct the arbour with Cumbria Wildlife Trust.
The outdoor areas also feature benches, a potting shed, and a greenhouse to encourage patients to enjoy the outside environment.
The unit also contains a domestic washing machine (along with an industrial size machine for the ward use in general) with a washing line outside, meaning patients can do their own washing if they so wish. This promotes the existing skills of patients so they don’t lose the skills of using familiar things during their stay on the ward. If everything is done for a patient with dementia, sometimes they can forget some of the skills they had when going into hospital. Items such as the domestic washing machine help promote independence.