A purpose-built unit to provide highly specialist, in-patient support for adults with an autism spectrum disorder is to open later this month.
The Mitford unit will provide support for people who have extremely complex needs and display challenging behaviours when their needs cannot be met by local assessment and treatment services.
“We’re all incredibly excited to start welcoming people to the new unit”
The new in-patient unit to support adults with an autism spectrum disorder is opening to patients at Northgate Hospital in Morpeth, Northumberland, on 28 November.
The £10m unit, which will be run by Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, includes design features specially introduced to make it as supportive and as caring a place as possible for people with autism who need highly specialist in-patient care.
Staff working there will provide timely and bespoke support, so people staying at Mitford can get back home to their families as soon as possible, said one of the trust’s senior nurses.
Clinical nurse specialist Helen Percival, said: “Mitford will offer a unique, personalised service, with all care tailored to people’s individual needs. We will adapt the service around the patients’ needs, rather than them fitting into the service.
“This means we will be working very closely with individual families to make sure that they are fully involved in and in touch with their loved one’s care,” said Ms Percival.
“The entire design of Mitford has been centered around people with autism, with low-stimulus environments and very specific features to help reduce anxiety for the people we support,” she said.
Ward manager Pam McIntyre added: “We’re all incredibly excited to start welcoming people to the new unit, which will see the North East providing one of the most tailored environments in the country for adults with an autism spectrum disorder.”
Northumbria nurses welcome new autism centre for adults
These specialist design features include technology that enables patients to use Skype so they can be brought into meetings about their care, even if they are unable to attend in person.
There is curved walls and seating areas throughout to help people move about the unit with ease, and doors and cupboards that can be hidden into walls to create smooth lines and reduce anxiety.
Another feature is precise temperature and lighting controls for each living area to adjust the environment depending on patients’ needs.
In addition, there is sound-proofing throughout the unit to help reduce noise sensitivity, and high ceilings and windows to maximize natural light.
All of the unit’s 15 bedrooms are en-suite and can be made “low stimulus”, said the trust. There is also a sensory room, activity room, and therapy room, as well as a garden area, multi-faith room, a sanctuary and quiet space, plus visiting area.
Work on creating Mitford started back in June 2012, with service users, clinicians and architects working together on the design.
A formal opening ceremony for the unit will also take place next year.