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A new purpose-built facility caring for some of Fife’s most vulnerable patients has opened at Stratheden Hospital.

The new Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit (IPCU) will cater for those experiencing acute episodes of mental illness, providing specialist care and treatment at a time when patients are at their most vulnerable.

Construction on the £4.4m project began in May 2015 and was completed earlier this month. The new eight-bed facility sits on the north-eastern part of the hospital grounds, adjacent to the Radernie Low-Secure Unit and replaces an existing unit housed in one of the Victorian buildings on the western edge of the hospital site.

Patients both past and present played a pivotal role in the design of the new unit, identifying many of the key features which made their way into the finished build.

Clinical Service Manager, Lesley Tweedie, explains how the design was developed:

“We recognised that if we were to deliver the standard of facility our patients deserved, then we needed to ensure that patients with experience of our IPCU played a role in informing the design.

“A group of current and former patients were asked to identify the features that would be important to them at the point where they are most unwell. The feedback we received from this patient group, coupled with a similar focus group of staff, was presented to the architects and almost all of these were encompassed in the finished build”.

One of the key themes of the design brief was to enable greater privacy for patients than was afforded within the previous unit, where patients shared bedrooms. Within the new IPCU, patients each have their own single bedroom with en suite shower room, enabling greater privacy and offering patients a tranquil space.

Perhaps the most striking feature is the buildings central courtyard, which offers patients a considerable outdoor space to exercise or to relax and enjoy some fresh air. Accessed from the double-height communal lounge, the expansive courtyard provides a valuable outside area which was lacking in the previous unit.

A further improvement from the previous facility is the provision of private rooms where patients can spend time with visiting friends and relatives. Limitations in the old IPCU meant that patients could only spend time with visitors in the communal dining area. The new Unit allows patients to meet with friends and loved ones in comfortably furnished rooms, with access to a second visitor’s courtyard. Patients also have access to a new IT suite, where they can remain in touch with friends and family members or keep up to date with the outside world. 

Whilst the new unit offers a considerably more tranquil and comfortable environment for patients, the design also enables significant clinical benefits which support patients recovery and shorten the length of time they are required to spend in the IPCU.Patients cared for in the new facility will have access to an art and music room, a group therapy room, gym and a relaxation area, all of which aid patients in their rehabilitation.

Following completion of facility, NHS Fife Chief Executive, Paul Hawkins said: “I am delighted to see patients move into the new Intensive Psychiatric Care Unit.

“We recognise that providing modern, therapeutic environments support us to deliver the high standard of care our patients deserve. This facility will enable some of our most vulnerable patients to be cared for in a safer and more supportive environment, designed specifically to meet their needs.”

Sandy Riddell, Director of Fife’s Health and Social Care Partnership, which oversees the provision of mental health care, said:

“Replacing the IPCU at Stratheden Hospital is a key part of our efforts to enhance mental health services in Fife.

“This new facility provides a more modern and secure environment for patients, enabling greater privacy and allowing our specialist staff to deliver more rehabilitative and therapeutic interventions.  

“We are determined that patients in Fife should receive the very best care available and this impressive new facility will certainly support us in this end.”