New mental-health unit ‘open by summer’

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A SENIOR nurse will be on duty 24/7 at a new mental-health facility due to open this summer, according to the Island’s director of mental health and adult social care.

The nurse will supervise a suite described as a ‘place of safety’ for Islanders detained by the States police due to mental-health concerns, Andy Weir told a Scrutiny hearing yesterday.

Mr Weir said that this was a key change to the mental-health provision that will be introduced when the service moves from Orchard House to the newly-refurbished Clinique Pinel in July.

He revealed more details of the new facility during a quarterly meeting of the Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel.

Mr Weir explained: ‘The particular change is that we are going to introduce a senior nurse on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The reason for that is because we’re opening and introducing the Article 36 suite, so the police will be bringing people in for assessment there which will be very new and is a change in the service, so we think it’s important that we recruit some more senior nursing staff to help manage that.’

Article 36 of Jersey’s Mental Health Law allows a police officer to remove a person from a public place if the officer believes that the person is suffering from a mental disorder and is in immediate need of care or control. A person who is removed to a place of safety under this Article may be detained for up to 72 hours to decide if any other arrangements are needed for the person’s care or treatment.

When asked yesterday about staffing the new facility, Mr Weir admitted that there were still ‘some recruitment challenges at Orchard House, particularly for registered nurses’ but confirmed that there were enough staff currently employed in the service to carry out the move to Clinique Pinel.

At the hearing, Health and Social Security Scrutiny Panel chair Deputy Rob Ward also asked how much bigger the new facility was compared to the current provision at Orchard House.

Mr Weir explained that the key difference was not in size, but in layout.

‘At the moment, one of the particular challenges we have in Orchard House is segregating areas,’ he said. ‘If we admit a young person, for example, or if we have a female patient who wishes to be looked after in a female-only area, it’s really quite hard to do that. There is a female-only corridor with bedrooms, so she could stay in her bedroom, but we aspire to do much better than that.’

Mr Weir added: ‘The joy of this new area [Clinique Pinel] is that we can separate out areas and have separate space for younger people, for women, for men, however we want to manage that.

‘The other really significant improvement is the intensive care area, as we have currently some patients who will require a period of being nursed away from the main ward – particularly because of risk to others. The layout in Orchard House is not very good for that frankly, and that will be much better in the new environment.’

Work on Clinique Pinel is due to be completed in June, however Mr Weir explained that there would be a few weeks of ‘snagging [checks] and decorative work’ before the facility can be occupied in July.

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