Centre catering to children’s needs

Treating children with mental health issues is different from treating adults and this is one perspective that was taken into consideration when The Thrive Family Centre was designed.

This is according to Trustee of the Sandy Lane Charitable Trust, Phillipa Challis, who gave remarks at the official opening of the Centre at the Psychiatric Hospital yesterday.
She said that though they do not process the medical background to design such a facility, what they do have is the ability to listen, and the difference in approaches to treatment was acknowledged by the Trust.

“Something Senior Psychologist, Dr. Gibson said to us back in 2017 has resonated with me ever since. ‘We cannot treat children as miniature adults … They have very different needs and extremely different solutions and if we fail them, all we will end up with is another set of adults, with even worse problems’,” she recalled.

As a result, the facility is much more than the physical structure and the physicians therein, but about how all of the staff, including the external stakeholders, work together to cater to the needs of these children.

“So the Trust understands that a facility such as this, is not just about bricks and mortar and it’s not just about doctors and therapists, but it is about grasping the concept that every single person linked with this Centre, whether nurse or cleaner, doctor or security guard, needs to fully appreciate [that] these children are patients that truly need our support, because either through age or circumstance, they cannot help themselves.

“We do realize that treating children’s psychological illnesses in Barbados in this different way is going to take time and effort by all concerned, not only by the onsite staff and practitioners, but other doctors, therapists, policemen, teachers and the public at large too. Tackling the stigma of mental health illnesses and issues and the building in which it is undertaken has to start somewhere, so why not here and why not now.”

The Trust therefore bore all of these factors in mind in the design, said Challis. “The Sandy Lane Charitable Trust’s commitment was to provide a facility that can help educate and transition these children and their families into a life of confidence and empowerment in a warm and comforting environment.

“The Centre is split into two parts. Accessible to the public through controlled front doors are the doctors’ consultation rooms, family consultation and boardroom and then through a security controlled door you enter the patient-only areas – a series of bedrooms – singles, twins and a couple of family suites – all with specially adapted facilities, from fans, furniture, tinted glass, taps and mirrors, everything functional you need, but especially designed for these unique circumstances.”

The Trustee added, “There are many different multi-functional rooms for group therapy sessions and individual attention, treatment rooms and social and recreational spaces. The idea was to provide as many flexible areas that can be used by numerous different therapists and doctors. A series of spaces, that uses can evolve overtime as the staff and the programme develops and matures.” (PJT)

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