Ancora House mental health facility completed in Chester

£14m building ready to open as a place of refuge, hope and support for children and young people

Ancora House provides 26 beds, as well as four specialist beds with day spaces, a central nurses’ station, an educational centre, visiting areas and communal spaces

A £14m state-of-the-art building has been completed in Chester and is ready to provide child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) across England. Ancora House, located next to Bowmere Hospital on the Countess of Chester Health Park, will provide inpatient and day patient care, known as Tier 4 services, for children and young people with severe and/or complex mental health conditions beyond the remit of community services.

Commissioned by Villicare, the Joint Venture Company formed between Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CWP) and healthcare estate specialist Ryhurst, the facility has been purpose-built to improve patient safety, service quality and financial efficiency for commissioners and the Trust.

Those accessing the services have been instrumental to the project, including designing rooms and decorating the mock bedroom

The two-storey building is the shared vision of CWP and the young people in their care, with Villicare implementing an extensive consultation process from the beginning of the project to ensure the facility is safe, person-centred and effective.

Those accessing the services have been instrumental to the project, taking part in a range of workshops designing rooms, decorating the mock bedroom on the site and choosing the name ‘Ancora House’ for the building. ‘Ancora’ is a Latin noun meaning hope, refuge and support and describes the aims and objectives of the unit.

'Ancora House is a credit to the commitment of everyone involved in the project, particularly the Trust for their courage in daring to be different and to the young people from the CAMHS service who have so enthusiastically helped and guided us to provide an excellent user-focused facility,' says Chris Tonge, General Manager of Villicare. 'The outcome will improve access, promote resilience and foster continuous improvement to deliver the best possible CAMHS services for the region.'

The unit has been designed by mental health specialists Gilling Dod Architects and built by Eric Wright Construction over a 14-month programme. It provides 26 beds across two wards, plus a four-bed specialist area. The wards are subdivided into two smaller areas with day spaces, a central nurses’ station and a seclusion suite.

Secure gardens with horticultural and landscaped areas provide recreational facilities

Ancora House arrives complete with an Ofsted 'outstanding' education centre, visiting areas and communal spaces, such as Activities of Daily Living (ADL) amenities, exercise room and multi-faith area. It also includes secure gardens enclosed by the building for security and privacy as well as horticultural and landscaped areas providing external recreational facilities, including outdoor exercise equipment.

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Gilling Dod Architects (more information, website)

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