New mental health ward keeping vulnerable safe from Coronavirus

A ward for people with mental health problems in Leeds has been revamped to help keep some of the city’s most vulnerable people safe during the Coronavirus pandemic.

“The Annexe” opened at the Becklin Centre on Tuesday 12 May and is the latest development in Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s response to tackling the pandemic.

The 10 bedded ward will be used to care for people with acute mental health problems who have tested positive for Coronavirus upon admission to the mental health unit. It will be staffed by a team of mental health nurses, doctors, allied health professionals and support workers.

The Annexe is part of a larger ward, used to care for people suffering with acute mental health problems. By creating a separate unit within the ward for Coronavirus patients, and continuing to follow best practice around infection control, the Trust hopes to reduce the risk of transmission and keep people safe during their stay.  Patients in The Annexe will continue receiving the care and treatment they need for their mental health and this will not be delayed as a result of their Coronavirus diagnosis.

As well as private bedrooms, The Annexe has a living and dining area and communal space in corridors, to enable patients to move around and socialise, which is beneficial for their mental wellbeing. The unit also has an enhanced observation area where patients can receive closer nursing care if their physical health deteriorates whilst they are suffering from the effects of the virus.

There’s also a staff area next to The Annexe. This includes a staff room, changing area and PPE donning space, to ensure best practice is followed in relation to infection prevention control.

Alexandra Foster, Ward Manager said “I’m so proud of the hard work and determination shown by all our staff to make this unit possible. The nature of acute nursing means our staff are well practised at responding to challenges in a dynamic and proactive way and this unit proves that.”

She added: “The safety of our service users is our priority, and I thank everyone involved for embracing the changes we’ve made.”

The video below offers a quick tour of the Annexe and highlights the great work taking place.  The short clip was filmed and edited by front line staff.

New rest room opens for staff wellbeing

Elsewhere at the Becklin Centre, a new rest room has been opened for front line colleagues to use when they need to rest and recharge. The welcoming space has brightly coloured furnishings, fresh flowers, and sweet treats, creating a warm and inviting area for staff.

Maureen Cushley, Head of Operations for Acute Services, said: “The pandemic has affected us all professionally and personally, and it’s important that we remember to look after our own wellbeing. This room is a place for staff to go when they need a break from the frontline, and share what’s on their mind with others – at a safe social distance of course.”

She added: “The team sourced all the decorations themselves and I’m delighted by the amazing job they’ve done.”