The Retreat, the first major outcome of the recent Mental Health Acute Care Pathway review, had its official opening at Hahnemann House in Bournemouth yesterday. Run in partnership with Dorset Mental Health Forum, it provides a safe and welcoming environment for people who have self-identified a crisis and need out-of-hours support.

The Retreat is staffed by mental health clinicians and peer support specialists, and is open to any Dorset resident aged 18 and over from Monday to Thursday: 4.30pm-12 midnight and Friday to Sunday: 6.30pm-2am. It is proving hugely popular – since it opened its doors at the end of April, there have been almost 1,200 visits from people needing various kinds of support. You don’t need to make an appointment, you can simply go along if you feel you are approaching a crisis and need to talk to someone about it.

Dorset HealthCare Chief Executive Ron Shields joined Becky Aldridge, Chief Executive of the Dorset Mental Health Forum, to kick off the opening ceremony before handing over to Mental Health Community Services Manager Rachel Small, and Sarah Rose, the Forum’s Operations Manager, for a short presentation on the creation and development of the service. Rachel and Sarah joined Retreat Team Leader Jacob Beale to cut a specially-baked cake, before assembled guests – including representatives from the Trust, the Forum and other local stakeholders – were treated to refreshments and a tour of the building.

The Mental Health Commissioning team; Dr Paul French, Kath Florey Saunders and Elaine Hurll are “absolutely thrilled” to have facilitated the ACP Review and to have coproduced with people who use services, carers and staff all of the proposed changes.

Elaine Hurll (Principle Programme Lead) who was the project manager for the ACP said “being involved in the development and then witnessing Dorset HealthCare and Dorset Mental Health Forum co designing the operational arrangements for the service and then being at the formal opening of the Retreat was a commissioner’s dream.

“A huge thank you to Dorset HealthCare and Dorset Mental Health Forum for their passion and commitment in getting the service to look and feel safe, welcoming and so that people who use the service are able to have space to be calm, to work through whatever is going on for them and to move on. Hopefully this will help them realise their own strengths and inner resource to get through”.