Building Together at PHC Lincoln
Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (LPFT) provides mental health, learning disability and autism services across Lincolnshire.
As part of its Eradication of Dormitories (EoD) programme, LPFT appointed Integrated Health Projects (IHP) to develop two new mental health wards at the existing Peter Hodgkinson Centre (PHC) in Lincoln. To ensure a user-led development, LPFT/IHP assembled stakeholder subgroups to participate in the project design.
The self-named Building Together Focus Group (BTFG) – the subgroup of 12 ‘Experts by Experience’, has ensured the views of those with experience of mental illness and mental health services have been embedded.
While embracing new ways of working, demanded by Covid lockdowns, BTFG took a proactive role in:
• Regularly sharing/reviewing ideas and proposals with IHP
• Presenting views/consulting with designers and clinicians around best solutions at fortnightly Design/Quality subgroup meetings
• Monthly reporting to EoD Board meetings
• Regular site progress visits.
LPFT also organised public engagement events and newsletters, detailing progress and encouraging local people to have their say.
Through collaboration, BTFG has influenced:
• Internal furnishings and warm, calming décor
• Room layouts
• Seclusion suite relocation (to support privacy and dignity and limit noise disruption)
• Maximum natural lighting
• Courtyard design, planting and murals
• Introduction of CoWin Play media units to all bedrooms
• Accessible signage
• Accessibility design for wards and bathrooms
• Design of welcome packs.
BTFG challenged perspectives, like when selecting internal signage, urging consideration of language difficulties and/or intellectual disabilities of those experiencing mental distress. Taking onboard clinicians’ views too, a solution combining imagery, colour coding and numbering was agreed.
BTFG’s ‘sensory champion’ who has autism, raised awareness of lighting and noise sensitivities, and suggested interventions like rubber feet on chairs to minimise noise.
Another contributor, Gary, who’d had inpatient experience at PHC, joined BTFG with initial trepidation, but became pivotal in many design decisions.
He visited site regularly, liaised with the LPFT/IHP teams, laid the building’s first brick in a ‘golden trowel’ ceremony and was interviewed by the BBC about his Expert by Experience role. These experiences and restored confidence led to Gary’s appointment by the Trust as a paid Peer Support Worker.
He said: “Through involvement, my confidence in my abilities started to return. To feel part of a team, talking, interacting, listening, being listened to, encouraged, feeling valued, being respected and respecting, has been the best medicine there is”.
Alan Pattison, EoD Programme Lead, added: “The Building Together Focus Group has provided an invaluable insight to the patient experience. We’ve used this to create an environment fit-for-purpose, full of patient considerations. For example, as well as every patient having an ensuite bedroom, they’ll also have an in-room media system, personalised to their individual needs. We couldn’t have done this without our Experts by Experience. We’ve learned together, and for that, the Trust and I are very grateful”.
BTFG’s invaluable participation at Lincoln’s now being replicated in Boston where they’re influencing the location of LPFT’s newest ward, to optimise its therapeutic environment, and championing inclusion of a café, for the wellbeing benefits it would bring patients, staff and visitors.