Patients help design new £1.5m mental health ward in Gateshead

Mental health services for older people in Gateshead are to receive a boost today, as a new facility is officially opened at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital – designed in a collaborative effort between patients and staff.

The purpose-built Sunniside ward provides treatment to any patient aged over 65 in the Gateshead area who has a diagnosis of mental health illness.

The modern, cutting-edge building has ten single, en-suite rooms. The new layout and design will improve the safety, privacy and dignity of patients, as well as providing a better working environment for staff.

The project is unique in that the new building has been a truly collaborative effort and designed with the close involvement of both the patients and staff of Sunniside. Their feedback and suggestions have informed the design, layout and features of the new building.

Natalie Brown, nursing assistant on Sunniside, said: “What was important from the very start of the project, was that patients were given the opportunity to influence the environment. We were able to understand, through the focus groups of past and present patients, the impact the environment can have on their recovery and experience of the service. The new ward will provide a good foundation to enhance the care that the staff already provides.”

James Hackett, modern matron for older persons mental health services, said: “For those people who are admitted to the Sunniside ward, the quality of the environment is extremely important. This new building offers modern healthcare facilities which provide a safe, comfortable and dignified environment in which to receive care, and for families and carers to visit. We have worked closely with and listened to our patients, staff and the local community to make sure that our new Sunniside building serves their needs.”

Jacqueline Bilcliff, acting chief executive at Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, said: “We’re thrilled that we now have this brand new, purpose-built unit where our staff can continue to provide high-quality care to the older population of Gateshead.

“The new building demonstrates the Trust’s commitment to continually improving our services for patients and we’re confident that local people in Gateshead will continue to benefit from the outstanding care provided by the team, as well as modern, comfortable surroundings.”