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Celebrating 150 years at Broadmoor

06 Jun 2013

Broadmoor Hospital Victorian exteriorThis week the UK’s best known provider of highly specialist care for people with severe and complex mental health conditions, Broadmoor Hospital, celebrates its 150th anniversary as it prepares for an exciting future.

Broadmoor Hospital opened its doors for the first time in 1863, providing care for mentally ill men and women who had committed acts of violence or seemed in some way to threaten society.

The hospital was purposefully set outside London on a hill with views of the Berkshire countryside in Crowthorne. Patients benefitted from the idyllic calm of the surrounding landscape and worked in the kitchen gardens and on the hospital farm as part of their therapy.

The modern-day hospital has outgrown its Victorian setting. So subject to final approval by the Department of Health, redevelopment of the hospital is due to begin this year, which will allow it to offer improved therapeutic care in setting that meets 21st century healthcare standards to patients in the new hospital when it opens in 2017.

Clinical treatment has greatly evolved over the years and today NHS care is provided at the hospital to 210 male patients by specialist teams in conditions of high security.

Through the therapeutic process, patients admitted to Broadmoor Hospital gain an understanding of their offending behaviour and the nature of their illness. They are supported by a range of experts at the forefront of psychiatry and mental health treatment. Staff at the hospital work with patients to reduce risk of harm and self-harm, promote recovery and rehabilitation and offer hope to some who have lost their place in the family and society.

Patients at Broadmoor Hospital present some of the most complex and challenging needs in mental health care; many have multiple conditions, or combinations of symptoms that have proved resistant to treatment.

The hospital is a leading contributor to current thinking on recovery in secure services, and regularly hosts national events and conferences on the subject.

Broadmoor frequently welcomes international visitors from the healthcare and criminal justice systems of other countries seeking to better understand optimal ways of supporting recovery in high security mental health services.

Our staff use the opportunity this complexity presents to understand more about severe mental illness and the personality disorders that disrupt patients’ lives and wellbeing. A number of research studies, for example, on empathy, on attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder and on brain functioning associated with different conditions, have furthered understanding of the causes, treatments and management of mental illness.

Leeanne McGee, executive director of high secure services at Broadmoor Hospital says: “We’re extremely proud of the nationally recognised clinical care we provide and the research work we do at the hospital. We will mark the 150th year with a series of events for patients, staff and guests from organisations in the local community, to celebrate the past, present and future of Broadmoor Hospital.

“We’ll launch our celebrations on Thursday 6 June with a multi-faith ceremony in the hospital chapel and a lunch for patients, staff and invited guests.

“Our patients have worked with staff to plan and organise the year’s events. Patients have designed a flag to mark the 150th anniversary, they’re working on a commemorative version of The Chronicle (the patient magazine) and they’re working with staff to direct and plan sporting, music and other events to take place during the year.

“Patients are also working on sculpting a time capsule which will be filled with items and not to be opened for 70 years. We’ll put the time capsule on display in the reception area of the new hospital when it opens.”

Joe Ayres, from Crowthorne has worked at Broadmoor Hospital for almost 30 years, as an occupational therapist. He says: “This is a really special year in the history of Broadmoor Hospital where I have had a long and rewarding career.

“There have been many changes throughout my time here including more emphasis on patient centred practice, development of recovery focussed collaborative working, greater patient involvement at all levels and a stronger emphasis on clinical governance, leadership and multi-disciplinary team working. I have been afforded many opportunities in terms of the numerous roles I have had over the years and the variety of training and educational opportunities as well as working with some very experienced colleagues from whom I continue to learn.”