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Tuesday, May 28, 2024
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Mental health hospital in Harrow transforms clinical space into ‘homely’ social hub for patients

Arcade games, sensory lighting, neon signs and pool tables are just some of the equipment which has helped to transform a clinical space at a Harrow mental health hospital as part of a unique collaboration between patients and staff.

Service users at Cygnet Hospital Harrow, a 36-bed mental health hospital for men and women, now have access to homely environments – named ‘Social Hubs’- away from the wards after unused spaces in the hospital were given a stunning makeover in an effort to provide patients with a safe space where they could relax and socialise together.

The Social Hubs have been designed and installed across ten Cygnet Health Care services so far and all have been co-produced between staff and patients, following feedback from patients who said they would benefit from having non-clinical rooms to wind down in.

Working from a wish list of items provided by service users, a team of staff and Experts by Experience (those with lived experience of inpatient settings) worked together to spend a day at Cygnet Hospital Harrow, transforming an otherwise empty room into a brand new space.

Patients were placed at the heart of the project from the very beginning and were escorted to a local shopping centre so they could be directly involved in choosing the items that were bought for the hub, giving them a further sense of ownership of the project. Items such as TVs, immersive sound systems, game consoles, inspirational artwork, comic figurines, posters, arcade machines, board games, bean bags and adjustable sensory lighting were all selected by patients.

Raf Hamaizia, Cygnet Health Care Expert by Experience Lead, said: “This co-produced project demonstrates how staff and service users can enhance both the built environment and engagement through working together.

“The new social hubs are a great place for service users to get off the wards to relax and socialise, particularly on evenings and weekends. Feedback from the community meetings at services has been really positive with one service user saying that the room “gives a positive and relaxing energy” and another remarking that it is “stunning and helps us to stay chilled.”

“We strive to make our services “homes away from homes” and the social hubs have been hugely beneficial for the service users, reducing incidents and providing them with a non-clinical, homely environment to enhance off-ward activities. It is refreshing to see how quickly the hubs are growing and the amazing feedback we are getting from both service users and staff alike.”

Raf said the plan is now to expand the social hubs across more Cygnet services, with the ambition for all Cygnet services to have a social hub in place.

“The ultimate benefit is the service user who has a place to do what they want to do, that they feel invested in from co-creating, that doesn’t feel clinical or hospital-like. It helps them in working back towards creating a sense of self, connectedness and ultimately recovery. It also provides reassurance to families when seeing this space and knowing their loved one is not in an institution but a place that they even rate themselves.”

Cygnet is a health and social care company which provides services for young people and adults with mental health needs, acquired brain injuries, eating disorders, autism and learning disabilities.