National £14m mental health facility completed in Chester

19 September 2016


Ancora House to open as a place of refuge, hope & support

A £14m state of the art building has been completed and is ready to provide child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) across England.

Ancora House, located in Chester, next to Bowmere Hospital on the Countess of Chester Health Park, will provide inpatient and day patient care, known as Tier 4 services, for children and young people with severe and/or complex mental health conditions beyond the remit of community services.

Commissioned by Villicare, the Joint Venture company formed between Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) and healthcare estate specialist Ryhurst, the facility has been purpose built to improve patient safety, service quality and financial efficiency for commissioners and the Trust.

The two-storey building is the shared vision of CWP and the young people in their care, with Villicare implementing an extensive consultation process from the beginning of the project to ensure the facility is safe, person centred and effective.

Those accessing the services have been instrumental to the project, taking part in a range of workshops designing rooms, decorating the mock bedroom on the site and choosing the name of the building ‘Ancora House’. ‘Ancora’ is a Latin noun meaning hope, refuge and support and describes the aims and objectives of the unit.

Chris Tonge, General Manager of Villicare LLP, commented: “Ancora House is a credit to the commitment of everyone involved in the project, particularly the Trust for their courage in daring to be different and to the young people from the CAMHS service who have so enthusiastically helped and guided us to provide an excellent user focussed facility. The outcome will improve access, promote resilience and foster continuous improvement to deliver the best possible CAMHS services for the region.”

Bella Cope, a Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) young advisor who has previously accessed services, added: “As a young person who has experienced the need for inpatient care, I can see how much better Ancora House meets the needs of those young people with mental health issues. In my opinion having a positive environment to recover in is crucial and can ease the difficulty of being away from home at such a challenging time in your life.”

The unit has been designed by mental health specialists Gilling Dod Architects and built by Eric Wright Construction over a 14 month programme. It provides 26 beds across two wards, plus a four bed specialist area. The wards are subdivided into two smaller areas with day spaces, a central nurses’ station and a seclusion suite.

Ancora House arrives complete with an Ofsted “outstanding” education centre, visiting areas and communal spaces, such as Activities of Daily Living (ADL) amenities, exercise room and multi-faith area.

It also includes secure gardens enclosed by the building for security and privacy as well as horticultural and landscaped areas providing external recreational facilities, including outdoor exercise equipment.

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