17 January 2020

City and Hackney first medium-secure ward caring for service users diagnosed with ASD celebrates one year since opening.

When the service was commissioned the team visited people diagnosed with ASD in prisons and hospitals to assess them for suitability and understand how to cater for their needs in a secure forensics set-up.

A service user talked about how being on the ward helped him feel safe and manage his condition:

'I like how the staff are very friendly and I can communicate with them. If they see someone is distressed, they address the issue in a one to one. I've learnt the confidence to speak to different people.' said a service user.

Chief Medical Officer Paul Gilluley shared his personal experience as a psychiatrist when he saw that the needs of this vulnerable group weren't met at the time: 

'If the service doesn't exist, build it. This is people's lives that we are talking about. It is awful the damage we can do by not having people in the right environment where they can thrive. Ensuring people are in the right environment to reach their full potential is invaluable' said Chief Medical Officer Paul Gilluley

'My son was treated as a real individual with real capabilities. He's got hope for the future and for the first time in years, I as a parent have hope for the future' said the parent of a service user on the ward.

‘We are planning on taking part in the national STOMP project to look at reducing the over-prescribing of psychotropic medication for our service users who have been prescribed excessive medication over the years. Reviewing these and bringing them to an absolute minimum is expected to have a big impact on both their mental and physical health’ said Elizabeth Hearn, Clinical Nurse Manager on Aldgate Ward.

Beaulah Nyatoro attended the event on behalf of NHS England and she was very touched by the success of the service.

Service users on Aldgate Ward are encouraged to engage in a variety of activities based on their personal interests; activities include gardening, white water rafting, pet therapy and volunteering for a charity shop.