A WIGAN hospital has been nationally recognised for its work with people with mental health disorders.
Lowton’s Ashwood Court Independent Hospital, which provides rehabilitation for people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, has just received a LaingBuisson Award.
The national award is for its groundbreaking work improving the physical health of its service users.
Research shows that people with mental health disorders are significantly more likely to suffer physical ill health than the general population.
Studies have shown that these people have higher incidences of cancer, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and obesity and on average die 10 to 15 years earlier.
Adult social care charity Making Space, which runs the hospital, teamed up with a Golborne GP to provide additional physical health training to one of its support workers.
Angela Burchall was seconded to Dr Alistair Partnership’s Golborne practice, where she attended the practice training programme and gained a host of skills in health screening and interventions.
On her return, the support worker was able to use her new skills in her work at Ashwood Court and a new physical healthcare pathway was established.
This means that a raft of physical health checks – from weight to blood glucose level – are now carried out on admittance to the hospital and at regular intervals throughout a stay.
The results speak for themselves, says Making Space director of services Andy de Vares.
“Since the physical health pathway was introduced in July 2013, type 2 diabetes has been found and treated in four previously undiagnosed patients.
“A severely withdrawn patient was discovered to have undiagnosed cataracts. In all cases, the patients’ mental wellbeing and social functioning has improved remarkably.”
He added: “The success of this pilot project has strengthened the belief shared by Making Space and Dr Alistair Partnership that equipping support workers with the necessary competences to deliver screening and treatment interventions could significantly reduce health inequalities for people with mental health needs.”
Dr Tim Dalton, local GP and Chair of NHS Wigan Borough CCG, said: “We offer Ashwood Court our congratulations for winning the LaingBuisson Award.
“Their innovative approach to helping improve the physical health of their mental health patients shows how important it is to treat people holistically and not just focus on the issue they have presented with.”
A spokesperson from the LaingBuisson Awards said: “Ashwood Court has displayed its prowess through the innovative approached which it deals with managing the physical health of its clients as well as the mental health needs.
“Through projects such as the linking of its services with those of local doctors, Making Space is producing great results thanks to its expert focus on delivery pathways – making it a well deserving recipient of the Care Pathways accolade at this year’s LaingBuisson Awards.”
There were more than 500 nominations for the annual national health and social care awards, with 187 projects shortlisted.
Another Making Space project, the Warrington-based Dementia Law Clinic, was a finalist.