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Patients give mental health unit thumbs up

Patients who helped design their own survey have given a York mental health unit top marks.

The annual patient survey results at Blair Atholl - a 19-bedded mental health unit in Haxby, York, run by The Retreat - have shown double the number of patients rating their overall care and treatment as excellent, compared to last year.

The Retreat is a not-for-profit specialist mental health provider, working with the NHS to provide care for people with complex and difficult needs.  

The patient survey is carried out annually in line with Healthcare Commission requirements, to seek the views of patients on the quality of the care and treatment provided.

This year’s topics and questions were developed by members of The Retreat and Blair Atholl’s Community Forum, following comments from staff and patients last year that questions did not cover relevant topics and were difficult to understand.

This year, the Community Forum asked for questions on more relevant topics such as food, activities, spiritual needs and the overall environment.

The survey had an excellent response rate and overall a high percentage of patients were pleased with these areas.

The Retreat’s clinical governance co-ordinator Adam Mosley said: “At Blair Atholl we feel we provide an excellent caring and therapeutic environment for our patients. However, we can’t continue to improve our service without involving the patients who use it, therefore it was important that the survey should be developed with the help of our Community Forum members.

“We hope the Healthcare Commission will appreciate the additional questions we have built into the survey and the involvement of our patients in its design. We feel that this has given our patients a better understanding of the survey, helped more of them complete it and given us a clearer picture of what patients want from our service.”

Compared to last year’s survey the results showed significant improvements in many areas. More patients said they had better explanations about medication, more said they understood the content of their care plans and more said their spiritual needs were being met. This was a direct result of an action plan put in place to address issues highlighted last year.

Areas for improvement highlighted this year include the provision of improved meals, more activities outside the unit and also increasing patients’ understanding of the Care Programme Approach (CPA).

As a result of this survey The Retreat has already reviewed its catering options at Blair Atholl with the refitting of the unit’s kitchen and employment of a dedicated chef a priority. It is also appointing an activities co-ordinator whose role will involve the organisation of a range of activities outside the unit.

Adam said “Results of this year’s survey reinforce our belief that generally the overall level of care and treatment we offer at Blair Atholl is excellent. Credit must be given to the staff team at Blair Atholl as these results reflect the hard work they have put in over the past year. However, we will continually look for ways of improving the service we offer to benefit our patients”.