North East autism ward gets new structure for family visits

The Mitford Unit at Northgate Hospital in Morpeth has built a new structure for its autism ward, enabling it to now provide an outdoor space for family visits.

Support from Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear (CNTW) NHS Foundation Trust’s charity, The SHINE Fund, helped the Northumberland-based hospital to complete work on a structure where families can spend time together away from a ward environment.

Katie Ballance, Nurse Specialist at CNTW, said: “Mitford is a national service with patients from all over the UK, as far as London, Belfast and Inverness. It was such a shame to see families who had travelled so far not be able to come inside, especially with our unpredictable North East weather. 

“While restrictions were in place we had to think outside the box to allow families to still be able to visit and we’re pleased to have something positive come out of the virus that will benefit our service users. 

“The building means families will be able to relax and do things that any family would do. Many have said they haven’t been able to sit outside and chat with their son or daughter for years because they’ve spent the majority of their lives in hospitals or institutions.”

Mitford, which has a focus on working with families and carers, provides a service to adults on the autism spectrum through a purpose-built unit for those needing specialised care. This new, additional outdoor space will hopefully be tailored further to fit with autism needs, through plans to add sensory lights for evening use.