Better care closer to home for children and young people with mental health problems across West Yorkshire

Children and young people from across West Yorkshire will now benefit from a new NHS service run by our Trust.

Red Kite View, the county’s new mental health inpatient unit for people aged between 13 – 18 has open its doors offering expert therapy and treatment to some of the most vulnerable young people in the area.

The new £20m purpose-built facility, located on the St Mary’s Hospital site in Armley, Leeds, has been designed in partnership with clinicians and young people who’ve contributed their ideas, hopes and aspirations for care at the new unit. They also helped to decide on the name Red Kite View with nature strongly associated with mental wellbeing and rehabilitation.

The 22-bed unit replaces the 8-bed unit at Little Woodhouse Hall (also in Leeds) increasing the regional bed capacity by 14. This is part of a drive to eliminate out-of-area placements for young people who need an inpatient admission but who can’t access a bed locally.

Its two main wards will be staffed by a 100-strong expert team made up of nurses, psychiatrists, teachers, clinical psychologists, and a wide range of allied health professionals and non-clinical support staff. This team is three times the size of the previous one at Little Woodhouse Hall, able to offer a wider range of therapies and support. They will work closely with the young person’s community mental health team during their stay, ensuring they can return to their families and local communities as soon as possible.

Dawn Hanwell, Deputy Chief Executive at Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LYPFT) which runs Red Kite View, said: “It has been my absolute privilege to lead this project and finally see it come to fruition after five years of hard work from a huge range of people.

“This fantastic new facility is something we in the NHS and our children, their parents and carers have so desperately wanted for so long. Our enhanced expert team will be providing fantastic quality care closer to home, and I sincerely hope that once it’s fully operational, it will ultimately see the end of out-of-area placements.”

Tim Richardson, Head of Operations for Children and Young People’s Service at LYPFT, said: “Our role is to support young people experiencing significant psychiatric, psychological or emotional problems that are causing them interpersonal, educational and social functioning problems. The team will work with a huge range of other services across West Yorkshire supporting young people’s mental health including the NHS, local authorities and third sector providers.

“We spent a lot of time listening to young people with lived experience of mental health services to influence the environment and the way we deliver care. Our young people told us they wanted Red Kite View to feel like a home from home, or even like a hotel, and not like a hospital. They also told us nature was important in terms of wellbeing and recovery. So we designed it to feel just like that – trying to ‘bring the outside in’ where we could through space, natural light and some amazing artwork.”

A picture of artwork in the day area at Red Kite View

Picture above: nature themed artwork in one of the day spaces at Red Kite View.

Nik Lee, a mental health nurse by background, is the Operations Manager at Red Kite View. He said: “Our young people’s Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU), known as Lapwing Ward, is a new service for the area. This six bed ward is a low stimulus, highly structured therapeutic environment with high levels of staff to ensure that the behaviours that any young person presents with can be assessed and supported.

“Our General Assessment Unit (GAU), known as Skylark Ward, is a 16 bed ward providing the same high standards of care without the need for enhanced physical or security measures. Everyone staying on the wards will have their own bedrooms, en-suite bathrooms and access to social space both indoors and outside.

“Our Education Suite, known as the Starling Suite, is where young people will be able to access teaching and learning activities so they can continue with their studies during their stay with us.

“We’ve also got a young peoples’ health-based place of safety for Leeds, which will open later this year. This is a place for young people detained under the Mental Health Act to receive care from specialist health professionals, rather than be detained in police custody or go to A&E.”

Red Kite View also boasts its own on-site professional kitchen. Nik added: “Good quality fresh food is very important for the wellbeing and rehabilitation of our young people, particularly as many of them have severe eating disorders. Having a professional kitchen staffed by professional catering staff cooking fresh food daily will play a fundamental role in our patients’ recovery.”

Read more about Nik in a recent blog on our website.

A psychologist talks to a young person in the multisensory room at Red Kite View

Picture above: Consultant Psychologist Dr Ruth Sutherland speaks to a young person in the multisensory room at Red Kite View. 

Red Kite View initially opened to five young people who transferred from Little Woodhouse Hall on 13 January 2022. Going forward the team will transfer young people who’ve been placed out of area and who might be in other settings such as acute hospital wards, who need an inpatient admission. It will continue to expand its provision in a phased approach through to May 2022 when the intention is to be fully occupied with all services fully operational.

Staff recruited internationally, nationally and on our doorstep!

The Trust has recruited around 80 new staff from overseas, across the UK and from it’s own postcode to ensure the team has all the right expertise to provide safe, reliable and effective care. This includes recruiting around 40 people from the Armley and Lower Wortley areas of Leeds as part of a campaign working with the Leeds One Workforce initiative to reduce unemployment in these areas.

Read more about our local recruitment drive, and about Hungarian-born Dorisz Fuko who’s taken a job at Red Kite View as an Assistant Support Worker, on our website.

Rob Webster CBE, CEO-Designate for West Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, said: “Everyone across our Partnership got behind building this new centre to help young people suffering complex mental illness. It was one of our first actions and it is good to see the results today. Ride Kite View means children and young people will receive care locally if they need specialist hospital care. Key to this is having the right workforce and I’m delighted that local people have been recruited to fulfil these important roles. The health and care sector is an investment in local jobs and the economy as well as health services.”

To find out more about Red Kite View and the project that built it, visit our website.