Publish date: 15 November 2021

A mental health inpatient unit for children and young people has won a top award.

The Riverside team, which is based in Bristol, has been awarded the Royal College of Psychiatrist's Psychiatric Team of the Year 2021: Children and Adolescents Award.

The award is in recognition of the way the team adapted their inpatient service into an enhanced day patient service for up to 10 young people. This was while building work was ongoing to expand the unit to include two new en-suite bedrooms, improved facilities to support education and learning, dining and social areas, and an internal lift.

One week before the first national lockdown, the service moved to new facilities to provide the enhanced day and outreach service whilst the building work was carried out. However, due to the pandemic, the service quickly adopted a virtual approach to supporting the young people in their care.

The team used telephone calls and videoconferencing to check in with the young people, provide meal support for those with an eating disorder, deliver individual, family and group therapy and care reviews.

The team worked to continue to provide care to those most in need and to ensure that any physical health issues or safety concerns could be addressed face-to-face where necessary. Alongside this, the nursing team also delivered the local Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) crisis helpline.

Though the original plan for the service's temporary relocation was designed and planned over many weeks, the pandemic meant that the team had to respond and adapt quickly. New plans were put in place, new technologies were adopted, and the team was able to continue delivering quality care, despite the unexpected circumstances.

Dr Melanie Merricks, a Consultant Psychiatrist at Riverside, said:

"I am so proud of the team for their remarkable ingenuity and persistence in the face of challenge and for their commitment and dedication to keeping our patients safe and helping them to make considerable progress. To have won this award is a fantastic recognition for the team."

As a result of the changes to this service, many of the measures adopted have remained in place. These include assessments prior to admission if needed, virtual meal support to ease the transition from an inpatient setting to the home, and family therapy.

The Riverside team continues to work in partnership with young people and their families and carers to put their needs first and provide a strong and safe environment to support recovery. The Psychiatric Team of the Year 2021: Children and Adolescents Award is a great recognition of the team and its work.

The award ceremony took place on Thursday 11th November and was held virtually.