Alnwood Unit hosts first ever virtual event

Posted: 02/12/20

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s (CNTW) Alnwood unit hosted its first ever virtual event for carers.

To coincide with Carers Rights Day on 26 November, carers were invited to attend in place of the unit’s annual open day which had to be cancelled due to the pandemic. The aim of the event was to raise awareness of the importance of carer involvement and their rights.

Carers were shown a series of three videos made by the young people and staff at Alnwood, designed to give an insight into life on the ward for those who have been unable to visit.

The first video was a walkthrough of the different areas of the ward, starting at the reception and moving through to the two wards Ashby and Lennox, showing the eating areas, bedrooms and artwork by the young people.

Filmed by young people with support from the unit’s nursing and multidisciplinary team, the video introduced the different people who work on the ward and their roles. Alnwood is made up of medics, psychologists, social workers, speech and language and occupational therapists, nursing staff and peer support workers, among others.

In this video, one service user says: “We have loads of laughs with the staff.”

Giving an honest insight into the ward, the second video tells the views of young people and their experience within the unit. They describe different aspects from arrival through to the bedrooms, care planning and treatment, accessing leave and hopes for the future.

The final video introduces the education team from Newcastle Bridges School. Alnwood aims to give young people control of their learning and each person has their own timetable tailored to what they enjoy. Teachers were able to describe subjects in depth with a tour of classrooms and learning areas.

Van Ho, social worker at Alnwood, said: “We want to make Alnwood a more open place by letting families see the whole unit, from the wards to the classrooms and outdoor areas. While we are unable to do that in person due to the current circumstances, we hope we were able to give families a feel for what it’s like.

“The pandemic has impacted the right to meaningful family contact and a lot of our young people have realised just how important seeing their families and carers are. Young people have been at the heart of this event and we would like to thank everyone involved.”

One attendee said it was interesting to hear from the young people’s perspective. All families and carers have the opportunity to arrange individual appointments with professionals after the virtual event.

Alnwood provides medium secure inpatient assessment and treatment for young people up to 18 years who have complex mental health needs, including those with a learning disability.