Here we have listed some questions and answers associated with the change of location for the East London Inpatient Dementia Assessment Unit. Columbia Ward (Tower Hamlets) to Move to East Ham Care Centre (Newham) If you have further questions, please add them at the end of the page and we will answer them.

Why does the ward have to move?
The 21 bedded ward needs to move to make space for Barts Health NHS Trust, who own the Mile End Hospital site, to develop a ‘Green Zone’* which will be designed to be COVID-19 free. 

Are any other services affected?
The development of the ‘Green Zone’ will also affect the Trust’s Pharmacy department which is based in the Bancroft Unit. This will remain at Mile End but will have works done to provide a new entrance and collection hatch.

THE WARD

What types of patients are admitted to Columbia Ward?
The Ward provides assessment and treatment for people experiencing complex mental health problems associated with degenerative brain disorders such as dementia from Tower Hamlets, City and Hackney and Newham. Each patient receives a thorough assessment of their needs from a wide range of health professionals. Along with input from families, the aim is to provide person centred care by building an understanding of a person's life history in order to meet their individual needs.

How long do people stay on the ward?
It varies but on average, around six weeks. 

Are the two ward environments similar?
They are both bright and well designed. People have their own room during their stay. At East Ham Care Centre, there is access to a specially designed garden and an activities team that provide lots of entertain and pastimes.

Have the current inpatients and carers been able to visit The Cazaubon Unit to see what it is like?
Unfortunately, no. There are works going on at The Cazaubon Unit at the moment to prepare for the move so we haven't been able to take anyone for a visit. We have spoken to those who we think will still be on the ward to explain about the move and reassure them that it is a pleasant environment with some nice additional features for them to enjoy – like the garden. We have kept them updated them and answered any questions they had. All seem happy with how we are proceeding so far. Ensuring that the move goes smoothly and that carers are fully engaged and supported has been paramount in planning the transfer.

VISITORS AND CARERS: TRANSPORT AND TRAVEL

Have the transport arrangements already been put in place and agreed with family members? Is there sufficient free parking?
We already have a travel plan with straightforward processes for arranging pre-paid private transport. There is a small amount of free parking available by arrangement, and after 4.00pm, there is limitless free parking on site, and all day at weekends.

Will the onus be on the staff and not carers to arrange transport?
Absolutely. When we admit anyone to the unit, we discuss the visiting arrangements and transport needs of all carers at the beginning. We already provide taxis for relatives who are frail and find it difficult to visit and this will not change. The ward organises the taxis which includes the use of black cabs for wheelchair users.

What about the impact on carers who are fragile and will have additional journey time? 
We are aware that travelling further could add to the stress of carers who are frail themselves when visiting their loved one. By offering private transport and on-site parking, we hope visits will happen smoothly and without undue stress. During the coronavirus pandemic, we have learned to be creative in enabling carers and patients to stay in touch by using technology too. 

When we admit someone to our unit, we know we are not just looking after one person; we are looking after two or more. Our staff come to know carers very well so can check-in with them to ensure they are supported and coping. 

How will visitors get to The Cazaubon Unit if they live in City and Hackney, and Tower Hamlets?
Transport links are quite good to East Ham station on the District line. But for frail visitors, we will arrange private transport. We will speak to them when the patient is admitted to talk about visiting times, how they can stay in touch and their transport needs.  

What arrangements will you make for the Chardi Jewish Community in north Hackney who cannot travel on the Sabbath?
We are aware of the specific needs of this community and will arrange local accommodation for family members to be able to walk to visit their loved one.

LOCATION

Will all older people’s mental health wards be at East Ham Care Centre?
No. Older people with mental illness who need to be cared for in hospital will continue to be cared for on Leadenhall Ward in the Tower Hamlets Centre for Mental Health at Mile End. 

Will all staff transfer to the Cazaubon Unit? Are there to be any job losses?
All staff will transfer to the unit.  We value all our skilled staff and do not anticipate any reduction in staff. 

Can ELFT find a more central location for the ward which could be easily access by residents in all three east London boroughs?
We would like to centralise the service to be easily accessible by residents of all three boroughs but we need to carry out this move quickly, and there are no suitable alternative facilities currently available. East Ham Care Centre is close to bus routes and to East Ham tube station which is on the District line so it feels like a good solution for the moment. Free parking is possible by arrangement, and there is paid street parking similar to that at Mile End.

Additionally, East Ham Care Centre is a modern unit that was purpose-built to meet the care needs of older people so it has really good facilities. It has some advantages over the Mile End location such as having an accessible garden, an activities area, and a strong social events calendar including cultural themed events, parties, external entertainers, etc.

Why can't each borough have it's own unit?
This is specialist unit and wherever it is located, it serves all three boroughs. We have specialist units for other speciality such as Leadenhall Ward for older people with mental illness (Tower Hamlets), the Coborn Adolescent Mental Health Unit (Newham), Female Psychiatric Intensive Care (Tower Hamlets), Male Psychiatric Intensive Care (Hackney) and the Forensic Unit (Hackney).

A number of other NHS inpatient specialist services (not provided by us) that serve all of east London also operate in this way. Eg. Specialist eye care (Moorfields), renal unit (Tower Hamlets), cardiology (St Bartholomews, City of London) – all holding outpatient clinics locally - but with inpatient facilities located in one of the east London boroughs to make the best use of resources.

If you have further queries, please add them below and we will respond. Thank you

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