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New unit at Maidstone will care for people over 65 with severe mental illness

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Maidstone is to get a purpose-built new mental health facility to serve older adults across the area.

Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) has been awarded £12.65m to fund the venture as part of a national drive to eradicate dormitory-style wards in inpatient mental health facilities.

An artist's impression of how the new unit will look
An artist's impression of how the new unit will look

The Kent and Medway Clinical Commissioning Group said the investment would ensure that Kent and Medway residents had access to the highest standards of inpatient mental health care, should they need it.

The decision comes after a seven-week public consultation on plans to relocate the last dormitory mental health ward, known as Ruby Ward, from its current home at Medway Maritime Hospital to a new unit at Maidstone.

Ruby Ward currently cares for those aged 65 and over who have with complex mental illness, such as severe depression, schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder.

A lack of space means that Ruby Ward can only care for female patients and also makes it difficult to provide a full range of therapeutic activities., welcome visitors, or enable easy access to outside space.

The new unit will be built at Hermitage Lane site in Maidstone, alongside other inpatient mental healthcare services.

How a room in the new facility will look
How a room in the new facility will look

The new building will include single ensuite rooms, space for providing counselling, group therapy, creative activities and access to specially designed garden areas.

Dedicated areas indoors and outside for patients and visitors will feature in the new design as well as facilities to help people relearn essential skills such as cooking and cleaning. An improved environment will help patients recover faster and return home more quickly.

Dr Navin Kumta of the CCG said: "Today’s decision signals the end of outdated, old-fashioned dormitory wards in Kent.

"We all share a belief that the privacy, dignity, and safety of anyone requiring admission to a mental health ward is paramount.

"Investing in our health infrastructure and ensuring people are treated in an appropriate setting that supports their recovery are central to our ambition of improving mental health care. Building a new Ruby Ward will help us deliver on this."

Construction begins next Spring with the building fully operational by 2023.

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