An award-winning idea to help young people cope in the adult world

9th August 2019

Plans to produce a “survival kit” for vulnerable teenagers leaving care and living alone have been given the thumbs-up by local health chiefs.

The Dorset’s New Adults (DNA) kit idea won Dorset HealthCare’s annual staff innovation competition, Dragons’ Den, securing £3,000 for an initial 100 boxes to help 18-year-olds remain independent and healthy.

Each box will contain foodstuffs, vitamins, hygiene/health products and a blanket, plus information signposting people to a range of advice and support. It will help set young adults on the right path and make them less reliant on health and care services.

The kit was the brain child of Abi Clark and Ele Jarrett from the Trust’s Looked After Children’s Health Team. They pitched the idea alongside former Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) service user Nikita, who explained that leaving the security and support of care at 18 can be a “scary and uncertain” time.

She added that such a box would help give vulnerable young people the feeling they can cope on their own and, in her words, “wrap a hug around you on your first night alone”.

The proposal was one of five shortlisted for the Dragons’ Den final following a public vote which saw almost 1,000 people choose their favourites.

And the panel of ‘Dragons’ were so impressed with all the ideas to improve patient care that none of them left the Den empty handed. These included:

  • Pedal Powered Professionals – £2,000 was awarded to trial the use of electric bikes across the Trust to help community nurses stay fit and healthy, reduce pollution and travel costs, and bypass traffic jams.
  • Calm, healing, sensory garden – £2,000 will help establish a quiet outdoor space to mental health patients at Nightingale House in Bournemouth, supporting mindfulness, rehabilitation and recovery.
  • Trust in Trees – £2,000 will be used to plant fruit trees at sites across the Trust, providing gardening activities to help with patient rehabilitation and fresh fruit to promote healthy eating.
  • Little Steps – £1,000 was awarded to help set up a regular peer support group in Dorset for people recovering from mental health problems, helping to combat loneliness and isolation, and reduce the risk of relapses.

Trust Chair Andy Willis, who chaired the panel of ‘Dragons’, said the quality of all the proposals was outstanding.

He added: “I think the ideas our teams are putting forward are increasingly innovative, with more thought about how we can sustain them in the long term.

“We’re confident all these projects will make a real difference to improving the care and support we provide to our patients and service users. We really look forward to seeing these projects develop over the coming year.”

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