A £14m state-of-the-art building has been completed at the Countess of Chester Health Park ready to house child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) for young people from across England.
Ancora House, located next to Chester’s Bowmere Hospital, will provide inpatient and day patient care for children and young people with severe and/or complex mental health conditions beyond the remit of community services.
Commissioned by Villicare, the joint venture company formed between Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) and healthcare estate specialist Ryhurst, the facility has been purpose-built to improve patient safety, service quality and running costs.
The 30-bed unit replaces provision at Pine Lodge in Liverpool Road and Maple Ward at Bowmere, which did not match current aspirations and standards and was ‘of significant concern’ to the Trust and the Care Quality Commission.
The two-storey building is the shared vision of CWP and the young people in their care to ensure the facility is safe, person-centred and effective.
Those accessing the services have been instrumental to the project, taking part in a range of workshops designing rooms, decorating the mock bedroom on the site and choosing the name of the building ‘Ancora House’. ‘Ancora’ is a Latin noun meaning hope, refuge and support and describes the aims and objectives of the unit.
Chris Tonge, general manager of Villicare LLP, commented: “Ancora House is a credit to the commitment of everyone involved in the project, particularly the Trust for their courage in daring to be different and to the young people from the CAMHS service who have so enthusiastically helped and guided us to provide an excellent user-focused facility. The outcome will improve access, promote resilience and foster continuous improvement to deliver the best possible CAMHS services for the region.”
Bella Cope, a CWP young advisor who has previously accessed services, added: “As a young person who has experienced the need for inpatient care, I can see how much better Ancora House meets the needs of those young people with mental health issues. In my opinion having a positive environment to recover in is crucial and can ease the difficulty of being away from home at such a challenging time in your life.”
The unit has been designed by mental health specialists Gilling Dod Architects and built by Eric Wright Construction over a 14-month programme. It provides 26 beds across two wards, plus a four bed specialist area. The wards are subdivided into two smaller areas with day spaces, a central nurses’ station and a seclusion suite.
Ancora House arrives complete with an Ofsted ‘outstanding’ education centre, visiting areas and communal spaces, exercise room and multi-faith area.
It also includes gardens enclosed by the building for security and privacy as well as horticultural and landscaped areas providing external recreational facilities, including outdoor exercise equipment.