Helping women recover faster in secure services


Women receiving care in our medium secure facility, Newton Lodge, are recovering more quickly than ever before thanks to an innovative new approach to care. This has seen a typical stay drop by an impressive 3.4 years since 2015.

When a major renovation of the secure estate was completed in 2015, the service seized the opportunity to start delivering services in a very different way and is now seeing dramatic results. While there will always be people with very complex needs who require a longer stay, those with typical treatment needs are moving through the service much more quickly. For example, in 2015 a typical stay was 5.3 years, whereas in 2016 that figure was 1.9 years. This means women are recovering more quickly and so are able to return to their communities and families sooner.

Tailoring services to women’s needs

A new rehab area and a new pathway through women’s secure services have made this possible. Women are almost always a minority in secure services and as a result environments are typically designed for men with women’s services bolted on. This means that women with a range of very different needs can end up being grouped together on one ward, unlike men’s services which tend to have a range of wards for different stages of treatment.

Therefore women who are ready for more independence can be held back owing to other people on the same ward needing much more intensive care. Or they may end up on a mixed ward with men which can be intimidating and feel quite alien to their previous environment.

A better environment for recovery

 So the women’s pathway team made sure the renovations included a separate rehab ward area specifically for women who are ready for the next stage of recovery. This ward has been a lifeline for the many women who are ready to start developing the practical and social skills needed for more independent daily living. They also have much more involvement in how the ward is run which promotes confidence and means recovery is again much quicker.

The team put in place a dedicated responsible clinician, manager, nursing team, occupational therapist, psychologist and  social worker which means the women don’t have to build new relationships or have a new assessment  when they move into rehab. Empty beds in rehab have as good as become a thing of the past as women are able to move in more quickly.

Ward manager Jo Barber said: “Previously, the only alternative would have been to move women ready for rehab onto a mixed ward which could feel like quite an intimidating environment. We know that this isn’t the ideal scenario in which most female service users will make a good recovery. We also know that the fewer new relationships people have to build, the better their ability to progress, so having a dedicated clinical team has made a huge impact. The feedback from service users is very positive, particularly from those who experienced the old and new wards when we first made the change.”

Director for forensic and specialist services Carol Harris said “The work the women’s pathway team have done is testament to the level of expertise we have in this specialist field. To break away from traditional provision and see these results in a relatively short period of time is something the team should be extremely proud of.  It’s an excellent example of the culture of innovation we have right across our forensics service.”

Helping women recover faster in secure services

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