Wardipedia – 39. Café

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Tea and empathy


A mother arrives for her first visit to her son in a mental health hospital. She is bracing herself for some nineteenth century Hammer Horror film-set of a building…

She’s put on a smart frock and a brave face but is tormented by what her adored son is going through and whether she could have done more to prevent him being hospitalised. The very few media accounts of mental health hospitals is stoking her terror of the sorts of people her son has been locked up with, and of the sorts of people who are meant to be caring for him.

Walking into the hospital reception, the mother is warmly greeted by the receptionist. The relief from this kindly welcome is heightened by realising that this is no Gothic monster of a building, and despite its admittedly advanced years, it’s clear that great care and attention have gone into making the reception area attractive, reassuring and hospitable.

The receptionist directs the mother around the corner to the café.

Deep relief. Friendly, warm, welcoming. A surge in optimism. All set for an informal, relaxed visit.

Ward examples

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  • The residents of the ward have responded to requests from patients, relatives and staff alike to re-open a Wednesday afternoon Café
  • Part of the dining room has been turned into a friendly café to coincide with visiting times.
  • Those patients who want their beverages hotter and/or poured by someone else and/or in a more high street-like setting, just outside the ward’s entrance is the ‘Forget Me Not café’. The good-sized room is brightened by the big French windows and jolly table cloths on round tables. The need for a funky pink mini-fridge is met through the prominent placing of a funky pink mini-fridge. The café is lovely and informal for visitors as well as a more ‘conventional’ but still special venue for patients.
  • Coffee shop with Sky TV.
“Life on a psychiatric unit can sometimes be quite hectic, I would like to remind people that it is possible to have some special and memorable days occasionally too. Last week we were lucky enough to have a sunny day so a group of people went off with an activity co-ordinator into town, another group went to do some work in the on site garden and I did a baking group. A couple of hours later the town group returned, the garden group washed their hard working hands and we all sat down in the garden to tea and a delicious selection of homemade cakes while everyone discussed what they’d been up to. I sat and looked round and was quite proud of our little group and the successful morning we had all had. ” L.O
The Hub
The Hub, based at the Hartington Unit (Acute care inpatient unit in Derbyshire) was opened in 2007 in joint partnership with Shaw Trust and was named Busy Bites café. Since this time developments to the café have taken place and a recreation service was developed to work alongside the Occupation Therapy team, and following patients’ feedback the café was re-named The Hub.
The gold standard recreation service at the Hartington Unit enables people to engage in activity at all stages of recovery. The Hub is an internet café with free internet and WIFI access; it is a relaxing, calm, welcoming and inclusive area where people can purchase snacks, drinks and toiletries.   The Hub is a safe space enabling visiting family and friends or community workers to meet with patients. We have daily newspapers, music, TV and an outdoor designated smoking area. We help people to make links with community resources and there are frequent scheduled visits from partners such as Chesterfield College, SPODA, Derbyshire Voice, Making Space and League of Friends and The British Heart Foundation.

The staff are all experienced mental health workers who deliver a rolling programme of recreational activity both in the Hub, on the Wards and also supporting patients to achieve their goals set by   Occupational Therapists within group settings.  Each ward is allocated a recreation worker who deliver arrange of activities 3 times a week asked for by patients, this also includes working in partnership with the British Heart Foundation by delivering healthy life style workshops.

From 2012, the recreation service in the Hub is extending its opening hours till 7pm every evening during the week, this has been put into place following patient feedback (“you said ,we did”) and patients felt that having the Hub available for longer opening hours, supports them in their recovery journey.  The Recreation Co-ordinator has formed a partnership with Chesterfield College and as a result, is in the process of recruiting volunteers to support staff to develop the service further. There are currently 2 volunteers that attend weekly to facilitate a craft group, and Pets as Therapy (PAT dog) who will also be joining the team within the next few weeks. 5 more potential volunteers are currently being recruited by the Trust to expand the service even further and offer a weekend service to patients and staff.

Future Plans
There are future plans to develop The Hub into a social enterprise this will create work experience opportunity’s and possible employment for patients at the stage of discharge.

Clare Farnsworth
Recreation Co ordinator
Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust

Leicestershire Partnership Trust

The Involvement Centre

The Involvement Centre which is run by volunteers including service user volunteers boasts an internet cafe selling hot and cold drinks and snacks. The centre provides a dedicated space for mental health and learning disability service users and carers, where they can meet, book space, network, and receive support and advice from peers and from voluntary and statutory organisations.  The centre is managed by volunteers and people who have experience of mental health and learning disability services. It has computers, phones, internet access, meeting spaces and a range of displays and leaflets.  Service users can also access support through a number of regular advisory clinics including employment and benefits advice.  The idea for the centre originally came from a User and Carer Involvement strategy developed by the Trust with input from over 400 service users, carers  and service user group representatives.

A Right Royal Carry On

A special royal-wedding-themed-cafe afternoon:

Tukes was originally set up in July 2003 as a project within NHS Mental Health Services to provide training and employment opportunities to people who have little or no previous training, qualifications or work experience due to their mental health problems.  This innovative scheme aims to enable people to gain new skills, increasing confidence, self-esteem, motivation and social exclusion before competing in the labour market.

The Tukes scheme aimed to replace traditional day care services with a business that delivered services such as catering and domestic functions to the remodelled mental health services locally.  Tukes also creates employment by operating four cafes, one at The Gardens Older People’s Mental Health Unit on the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital site, one at Harrison House, the new acute mental health unit, one in a former restaurant / night club in the Grimsby town centre, which incorporates a conference centre and training rooms, and a fourth as part of a contract with Shoreline Housing Partnership.

In 2010 adult mental health services moved off the hospital site into a purpose built facility that offers a less institutionalised acute service. Harrison House, which the CQC describes as a model of excellence, contracted Tukes to provide all ancillary services to this site, including cleaning, laundry, catering, concierge service, grounds and building maintenance. This site enables its residents to receive care and treatment while still maintaining daily living skills and accessing the training and employment opportunities that Tukes offer.

Tukes were the winners of the NHS national Health and Social Care Award 2008 for Mental Health and Wellbeing.

Tukes is also one of 3 organisations shortlisted to receive a Guardian Public Service Awards 2011 for their contribution towards improving services for people with complex needs.


Patient examples

  • I help run the café and am in charge of the money. Being trusted in to that extent has improved my confidence no end.


Categories: Generosity, Wardipedia