The unique unicorn

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By Geoff Brennan

Sometimes you just have to say WOW!

Today, I attended the award party for Cygnet Healthcare’s Unicorn ward (it was called Haven but the young people of the ward preferred Unicorn – and they changed it). I can honestly say I was overwhelmed with admiration for what they have done. Not just me –  Hospital Manager Hilary Martin, Clinical Director Paul Bentham, Ops Director Fiona Holden, Regional nurse Director Nick Horne and Exert by Experience Iris Benson were all there to celebrate (and eat the cake Iris made for the ward).

Taking the scaffold provided by the CAMHeleon resource, the community of staff and young people have worked incredibly hard to make all the ideas come to life inside the walls of their ward they had:

Personalised comfort boxes,
A sensory room,
A gym (and when we visited this there was a young man who shoed us all the equipment and how it worked),
Personalised furniture, décor and room art,
A fantastic folder telling you who was a member of their community and what they liked (including pets)
A comfortable and pleasant visitors room complete with TV and coffee making
Colourful and personalised care notes that were owned by the young people themselves,
Bricks for a wall of hope and discharge messages,

But most of all, they had a fabulous community spirit.

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I met the amazing Housekeeper chatting to the wonderful Consultant passing out cakes to the incredible support workers who were laughing with the brilliant young people and a compassionate mum. They were all dressed in rainbow wigs, “COLOURFUL” themed tee shirts and wearing huge smiles. There was good natured banter (including me being asked to say “my name is Geoff” in a range of accents), huge Unicorn balloons and we all got a unicorn party bag. It was amazing, heart-warming, humbling and inspirational. I have never been to anything quite like it.

The ward manager of Unicorn, alongside the leadership team have led this from the front (or from the horn, if you will), but the young people have moulded and shaped it.

This is the first ever CAMHeleon award for a PICU, and I tell you, world, the bar has now been set very, very high.

Here’s what Ward Manager, Ali Doolan said:

Ali Doolan

Ali Doolan

“I’m so happy the celebration day has been such a great success. The whole Team (Young People and staff) have worked so hard together over the past six months implementing new ideas to improve the service on Unicorn Ward. Truly embracing the CAMHeleon project has not only stretched our imaginations, made significant improvements, brought in new practices and strengthened our team, we’ve also had lots of fun! The celebration day was a brilliant way to showcase our work and invite others to see what can be achieved by working together. And who doesn’t love a unicorn party?!”

And Nic Higham, Children and Young People Lead at Bright:

“What a transformation! This is a sterling example of a ward that has thoroughly taken to heart and embedded a service improvement initiative from the ground up. One of the secrets to Unicorn’s success is that most members of staff, and of equal importance, many service users, have got involved in the project. Unicorn have owned and customised every aspect of CAMHeleon and have worked very hard to translate its philosophy of care into practice. I saw directly the beginnings of this at a workshop I facilitated for the team not so long ago. Superstar Ward Manager Ali and Reducing Restrictive Practice Lead Rachael Grayson got in touch with us in the summer of 2018 to enquire about our direct help offer. The day provided an inspirational springboard but the team, alongside the young people, did the work and they deserve heaps of praise and admiration. Go team Unicorn!”

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