The £11m Sowena unit run by Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CFT) is now taking admissions of boys and girls up to the age of 18 and is located at the Bodmin Hospital site.

The new 14 bed unit means that for the very first time children and adolescents have access to specialist mental health beds in the Duchy.

It is reported that one in 10 children aged five to 16 have a mental health condition. Most young people who are experiencing mental health difficulties are treated and supported within the community, however sometimes for those with severe mental health problems, often with accompanying high risk, require specialist inpatient care.

Historically, these have only been available in units which are a considerable distance from homes, visits and support from family and friends, which play a key element in people’s recovery, especially in the case of children.

A fundraising appeal for the unit launched in September last year, which has seen in excess of £420,000 raised for ‘icing on the cake items’. Vital funds from community groups, local councils, Duchy Health Charity, Garfield Weston Foundation, National Lottery and Wooden Spoon have meant that CFT is able to provide additional and specialist items that will really make a difference to the lives of young people.

Items include a minibus; a multipurpose activity barn for team sports and performance arts; parental accommodation to allow families to stay over and make admission less unsettling; a café to allow visits with family and friends to happen in a friendly space; therapeutic gardens, and equipment for music, arts and cooking.

Dr. Liz Myers, CAMHS Consultant Psychiatrist for Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust commented: “Admissions will be a mix of new patients and some young people returning from out of county. We will build up to full capacity over a number of weeks.

“We are thrilled to now have a local unit for Cornish young people so they can stay close to their homes and communities. Young people can stay connected with family and friends. This will enable swifter recovery and hopefully shorten the length of time they need to stay in hospital.”

Elizabeth O’Mahony, Regional Director for NHS England and NHS Improvement in the South West said: “We’re delighted to see the Sowenna unit opening, as part of our strategy to bring in-patient care closer to home for people in the South West. For too long, young people from Cornwall have had to travel too far away from the family and friends who can be so important in their recovery.

“The new unit is the final safety net for our most-vulnerable young people. It’s important to remember, though, that our real priority as set out in the NHS Long Term Plan is to keep young people well and to intervene early if they need help, so ultimately we reduce the need for in-patient care.”

 

You can find out more about Sowenna on their website.