Light dawns on mental health in Redbridge as Sunflowers brighten the future

DOORS to the future of mental heath care opened for the first time last week, as the ribbon was cut to the �latest state-of-the-art hospital.

The �22million building on the site of Goodmayes Hospital, Barley Lane, is set to amalgamate with Chapters House and Mascalls Park in Brentwood, which is closing after 153 years of service.

North East London Foundation Trust’s Chief Executive John Brouder spoke proudly of the 100-bed building’s detox unit - among the only purpose-built ones in London.

“This is the future of mental health care, and we feel that we will be leading the way for it,” he said.

Despite only being given the green light less than two years ago, the building was a combined labour of love for both architects and service users who helped shape its look.

Bernard Stanton, an architectural planner and also a service user, worked with Devereux Architects and was instrumental in re-designing the approved blue-prints.

“As someone who uses the building, it was crucial that it was as light as possible - I made sure the in-patient seating area was re-designed, so families waiting could be in comfort,” he said.

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Actress Lacey Turner, whose on-screen television character Stacey Slater from the soap EastEnders had bipolar affective disorder, had her hand primed with scissors to cut the ribbon, and declared: “It’s a pleasure to open Sunflowers Court. It will provide a high standard of mental health service in really nice surroundings for service users.”

The Recorder was given a tour around the detox unit, a light and airy open-plan building, where patients can access staff at all times, through a front desk manned 24-hours a day.

Matron Sue Simister said: “This is about design with engagement, it’s not a closed screen with staff hiding behind it, we will be available at any hour.”

The area also boasts glass doors leading to a garden, in which patients can potter, or sit in the sun.

Mr Brouder added: “Of all the people who suffer with mental health issues, 95 per cent never see a hospital; but for those five per cent, making their stay as pleasant as possible can make all the difference to their recovery.”