Supporting rehabilitation in a low secure setting

Located at Brooklands Hospital in Solihull, the Onyx Unit is a new, purpose-built, seven-bedded facility to support person-centred clinical assessments and interventions for patients with autism in a low secure setting.

Located at Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust’s Brooklands Hospital in Solihull, the Onyx Unit is a new, purpose-built, seven-bedded facility with individual studio-style living accommodation to support person-centred clinical assessments and interventions for patients with autism in a low secure setting. Co-designed with service-users, its facilities support improved rehabilitation, filling a service gap that had previously seen individuals placed in prisons or distant hospitals. James Johnson of Archus, and Helen Whinray, Director at The Design Buro, report.

The design process for the new Onyx Unit began in August 2020, with construction – undertaken by Willmott Dixon – starting in March 2022 and ending in June 2023. Demonstrating the demand for services, the facility welcomed its first patients in July 2023. Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership NHS Trust (CWPT) provides a range of physical, mental health, and learning disability services to children and adults – including inpatient, community, and day clinics, as well as specialist services. It serves a population of around one million people across Coventry, Warwickshire, and Solihull, and sees some 5,000 patients every day. The Trust is part of the Coventry & Warwickshire Health and Care Partnership, where it works alongside other Trusts, local government, and third sector organisations, with the aim of integrating care to help better meet local health needs, both now and in the future.

Brooklands is one of approximately 50 sites operated by CWPT; it accepts patients from the West and East Midlands region and beyond for the provision of specialist inpatient assessment and treatment for adults and children with learning disabilities, some of whom also have forensic needs. Yet at the time the project was conceptualised, the viability of services at the Brooklands site represented a significant and growing challenge for the Trust. Many referrals were for those with highly individualised and complex needs, often requiring an individual environment, or longer treatment and rehabilitation. Yet the existing accommodation at Brooklands was both inflexible and unsuitable for the specific requirements of patients, varying significantly in age and condition, and leaving CWPT unable to meet the demand for services.

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