26 June 2012

Recognition for intensive care teams

Two Bristol psychiatric intensive care units have been rewarded for their high standards with a national accreditation.

Elizabeth Casson House and Hazel Unit have both been recognised by AIMS (Accreditation for Inpatient Mental Health Services),  a demanding review programme looking at areas including training, the ward environment, facilities and provision of activities and therapies.

The award of accreditation by a group of mental health professionals, service users and carers is an important sign of recognition that the units provide a safe, high quality service.  Accreditation is not automatic and is only given after detailed analysis of self assessment reports, service user and carer questionnaires and an inspection.

Hazel is a 12-bed male unit at Callington Road Hospital and Elizabeth Casson House is an eight-bed unit for women which moved from Blackberry Hill to Callington Road last October. The two units care for mental health service users in very acute phases of their illnesses. Service users, normally aged 18 to 65, are referred from AWP's intensive teams, adult acute inpatient units or from prison teams and have been admitted under section under the Mental Health Act.

At Elizabeth Casson House, AIMS inspectors noted a "very creative, enthusiastic and cohesive team who use multiple approaches to engaging with patients" and that "patients reported that staff are available, knowledgeable and helpful." They found there was clear evidence of policies being in place and noted the "bright and airy environment".

Hazel was described as "a very bright, open unit with a relaxed atmosphere" with "plentiful facilities on the unit and on site for patients, including a gym and a kiln" and a "fantastic" occupational therapy garden with a vegetable patch." It was noted there was good management of patients' physical health, a good staff appraisal procedure and good information displays for service users and visitors.

The successful visits by AIMS inspectors follow a six month process during which staff, service users and carers were asked to comment upon all functions of the ward and the care provided.

Service Manager Calum Meiklejohn said, "We are delighted that Elizabeth Casson House and Hazel have both achieved this accreditation after a thorough assessment process that involved not only staff but service users and carers too.

"However, being accredited is not the end of the story; we are committing ourselves to an ongoing process that shows we are dedicated to providing safe and supportive services now and in the future."

Arden Tomison, AWP's Executive Medical Director and Director of Strategy, said, "Staff can be proud of their achievement in being awarded this accreditation by their peers. It represents continuing good work and is a sign that service users and carers can be confident of the quality of services provided."

Staff were invited to give the inspectors their views on the inspection process. The Hazel team said that the review "highlighted to staff their value and made them appreciate the facilities that are available even more." Elizabeth Casson House staff were also pleased with the feedback and noted they are "committed to making the unit the best experience possible for patients."

Building works have just been completed at Ashdown in Salisbury, AWP's third intensive care unit, so the AIMS process is now underway there too. More information about AIMS, which is run by the Royal College of Psychiatrists' Centre for Quality Improvement, is available at www.rcpsych.ac.uk/aims.

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