Milestones Hospital opened its Salhouse hospital, in Norfolk, in
From the start Milestones was built on the ethos that the best way to provide mental health care for women with complex needs is in small single-sex units with a high staff ratio and bespoke care supported by a holistic care approach.
This bespoke approach is meeting the Department of Health guidelines that indicate that health care should be single-sex whenever possible. Department of Health (2009) Delivering Same-Sex Accommodation: a Progress Report. London: DH.
The hospital was originally founded by psychiatric nurse Lisa Vescio who wanted to set up a small, independent hospital that would help female patients feel autonomous and valued, treating them with respect, dignity and sensitivity.
From her earliest days as a trainee psychiatric nurse Lisa had been convinced that patients must be treated as individuals in smaller units and offered high-quality, bespoke care that can help them become more self-empowered and self-confident.
She felt the day-to-day reality of care in large-scale mental health units didn’t allow for more personalised care that can help patients truly recover.
Fuelled by this vision, after working overseas and in the UK in large units, Lisa decided there was only one way forward – to set up an independent hospital.
It took months to find a suitable property but eventually the Milestone’s building in Stonehouse Road, Salhouse came up for sale.
The original building was run down and needed a huge amount of work – but Lisa was able to see the potential. After hours of hands-on renovation by its founders an impressive new hospital emerged and began taking patients early in 2007.
The new unit was named Milestones – a name chosen to represent the hospital’s ethos that the bespoke care it provides can bring real and beneficial life changes for service users.
From the start, and continuing today, the ethos of the hospital is that women who have had experienced a disturbed past will benefit most from a single-gender unit with a higher staff ratio, making them feel safe and valued.
Now well established, Milestones Hospital has 10 female-only beds and service users continue to be treated as individuals, with a personal approach that meets their needs. Instead of high-security fences, Milestones provide a secure environment that is managed by ‘relational security’. This supports the vision of a therapeutic familial environment with high staffing ratios that allows women to continue their treatment in an environment conducive to the healing process.
Milestones doesn’t have a seclusion room. Staff work closely with patients and manage their behaviour. Staff have created a deeply caring, familial environment that pre-empts and prevents challenging behaviour rather than merely responding to it with seclusion and/or medication.
Care is personal and effective. It carefully combines the medical model of care with its unique holistic philosophy for wellbeing that offers women a gentle and supportive combination of medication, occupational, psychological, nursing and wellbeing therapies tailored with the individual to meet their needs.
Milestones is a small unit, with no additional satellite units, so it can provide truly bespoke care rather than a one-size fits all approach. From psychiatric care and pathways back into the community to menu choices and wellbeing therapies - whatever a patient’s needs, the hospital can tailor- make a care package.
Staff and management genuinely care and want to help – and the hospital can offer an incredible therapeutic environment that can help patients move forward on their journey to recovery.
In 2014, Milestones became accredited with Norfolk County Council and is now able to take its unique philosophy out into the community by developing a new round-the-clock Independent Living Community Support Service across the Norfolk region.
As a small organisation Milestones can now provide bespoke packages in the community that will meet people’s needs in their own homes. This will reduce the need to have prolonged or unnecessary hospitalisation.
Mutual respect and collaboration.
Exploration of realistic choice in treatment and care.
Discussion, consultation and education.
An environment conducive to the healing process.