Support grows for ‘safe haven’ mental health unit for young people

16th November 2022

Photo 1.pngA leading local mental health charity has backed plans for a new psychiatric intensive care unit for children and young people in Dorset.

The Dorset Mental Health Forum is supporting proposals from Dorset HealthCare to build an eight-bed facility at Alumhurst Road, Bournemouth – a scheme also welcomed by families of former patients who had to be treated elsewhere in the country due to lack of specialist capacity.

Detailed plans for the development have been submitted to BCP Council for planning permission, and the deadline for comments is this Friday (18 November). You can give your views on the council website (search for 7-2022-7797-AW).

The project will mean seriously ill young people could be cared for locally instead of being sent for specialist treatment elsewhere – potentially hundreds of miles from family and friends.

Becky Aldridge, Chief Executive at the Dorset Mental Health Forum, said:

“When a young person is so unwell that they need intensive psychiatric care, the environment should feel like a safe haven, where the person will be able to access the treatment that they need and therapeutic benefit from their stay – which includes being close to their home and their whole family network.

“The future health and wellbeing of young people in Dorset needs to be everyone’s priority, ensuring that people are able to get the appropriate help and support at the time that they need it, with hospital admission as the last resort.”

Photo 2.jpgPoole mum Amanda, whose daughter Chloe had to be treated at a facility in Colchester, said:

“To have my daughter so many miles away, crying on the phone: ‘Mum, I need to see you. When are you coming to see me? I need to go out’…it was soul destroying. I couldn’t give her all the support she needed, and neither could the rest of the family because we all live down here [Dorset]. Being far away was very traumatic for the whole family, and especially Chloe.”

Bournemouth resident Naomi, who was fortunate to be treated close to home in the Dorset area as a teenager, said:

“I felt really lucky because it was so close to home, only half an hour away from my family. My friends could come and see me, and it meant that I was able to remember my reasons to keep fighting and who I was keeping going for.”

A dedicated web page about the project is available on our your future hospital page. It features digital mock-ups, a detailed explanation of how the proposal has been amended since it was first submitted in 2018 and more information on why this is a vital facility for Dorset’s young people.

The project is part of the Government’s New Hospitals Programme, which has allocated £73.9 million to Dorset HealthCare for two new mental health building schemes.

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Notes to editors

  1. Photo 1: Digital mock-up of bedroom corridor.
  2. Photo 2: Proposed site plan – aerial view.
  3. Photo 3: Digital mock-up of entrance view.
  4. The Dorset Mental Health Forum is a-peer run mental health charity promoting wellbeing and recovery through lived experience.
  5. Dorset HealthCare provides community health services covering physical and mental health across Dorset, Bournemouth, Poole and Southampton. Community health services include district nurses, health visitors, school nursing, end of life care, brain injury, sexual health promotion, safeguarding children, diabetes education, audiology, speech and language therapy, orthopaedic care and Dorset’s 12 community hospitals.
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