By Marion Janner
Yesterday was yet another extraordinary occasion at the outstanding Harrison House hospital in Grimsby, run by Navigo. At a time when so many crucial services are contracting or closing, they opened the most brilliant model of care – a new therapeutic community. The award-winning hospital didn’t settle for the usual celebrations. The guest invitee was… a pony!! Yes, there in the beautiful new TC was Poppet the pony. Many wards have found that the best way of getting animals onto the wards is for staff to bring in their own ones, but these are invariably dogs. Suzanne introduced her daughter’s pony.
The day was really special in lots of other ways. Strikingly, service users were absolutely in the forefront of all the planning. Fundraising is one of the most difficult, skilful and stressful activities anyone can take on, yet a woman who is finding life extremely difficult somehow found the energy and courage to sell hundreds of raffle tickets. Her tenacity was so apparent when at the end of a check-in session of the new TC which I was very privileged to take part in, the (wonderful!) doctor asked if anyone else wanted to say anything. The Hero Fundraiser said: “Would anyone like to buy a raffle ticket?” Even Lord Sugar would have been impressed at this seizing of the moment!
And it was thanks to the expertise of another service user that the celebration was graced with a magnificent, double-layer cake. Even Paul Hollywood would have been impressed!! The same person also painted a stunning Sequoia tree on the TC wall – the name was given because Sequoia trees are strong, long-lived and have deep roots. Lovely!
These are but some of so many examples of how Harrison House energetically, imaginatively and courageously identifies what patients, visitors and staff most need and then makes heroic efforts to provide what’s needed. The TC is for people with personality disorders, and it’s brilliant that the staff have been trained in Mentalisation Based Therapy, in partnership with the Anna Freud Centre. I had MBT for my Borderline Personality Disorder and it is a very gentle but powerful therapy, specifically designed for people with BPD. I could go on and on but will just bung in one more example of how dynamic and innovative Harrison House is – Navigo has bought a garden centre, complete with restaurant! This is through their service user social enterprise, the (also multi-award winning!) Tukes.
There are several interviews with Ellie Walsh on our youtube channel – really worth checking out.
Huge thanks to service users, staff and of course Poppet the pony for an amazing day! I am sure that the new TC will provide incredible support, hope and life improvements to everyone using it.