Willow House is our 9-bed inpatient mental health unit for young people aged 12 to 18 years.
We provide intensive treatment at this facility for young people who are experiencing serious mental health difficulties (known as CAMHS Tier 4). The unit supports young people from across the Thames Valley and is part of the national CAMHS Tier 4 provision, so we sometimes look after young people from further afield.
Willow House is quite an old building and unfortunately the fabric and layout of the building are no longer suitable for us to deliver high quality inpatient care.
New research and experience from other areas of the county has been showing that for many young people, treatment in an inpatient unit is not the only way of providing the intensive support they need and that for some young people it is not the best way. Young people and their families have also said that providing intensive support in a community setting, with the young person remaining at home with their family, would be more effective than having to admit them to an inpatient unit.
Our new ‘out of hospital’ service
We have been discussing this with NHS England, who commission the services we provide at Willow House and rather than building a new inpatient unit, we have agreed with them that we will start to provide CAMHS Tier 4 care in a different way. We have been working closely with our staff, patients, families of patients and our commissioners to develop a new 'out of hospital' service that will ultimately ensure better care and outcomes for a greater number of our children and young people in Berkshire.
There are precedents already set for this in other parts of the country, which are showing excellent results.
This means that from the end of April, we will stop admitting young people as inpatients but will instead offer treatment through a day hospital and hospital at home service. This new service will still operate over 7 days per week, 365 days per year, however young people will remain at home with their families or carers and will either attend for day care, be provided with support at home or a combination of the two.
The new service has been designed to also be able to treat young people who require this specialist level of care for an eating disorder, something that we are not currently commissioned to offer at Willow House. We will be able to treat up to 16 young people at any one time, compared to nine with the current approach.
Continued support for all patients
For those small number of young people who still have a need for high-level inpatient care, there are several units across the Thames Valley region, who we work closely with and which can still provide this.
We are planning on running elements of our new service alongside the current inpatient service at Willow House to make sure there’s a smooth transition, and Willow House will then close at the end of April to inpatients.
Full transition to the new model will take place over the following months and we expect the full service to be up and running by the autumn.
You can contact us if you have any questions about the new service, or would like to help us as we develop the new model