New mental health hospital ward opens for Kent and Medway residents

Date added: 08 March 2024

Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT) has today opened a new, standalone hospital ward for older people with mental health conditions.  

The new £12.6 million site, situated on KMPT’s Hermitage Lane site in Maidstone, replaces the outdated inpatient services previously located in Medway.

The investment was awarded to KMPT as part of a national NHSE drive to eradicate ‘dormitory’ style wards in inpatient mental health facilities, which no longer best serve patients’ care or safety needs.

Ruby ward, as it’s known, will serve residents across Kent and Medway and the new building increases capacity from 10 beds to 16 beds to meet inpatient needs for the county.

Features of the new building include:

  • 16 single ensuite rooms
  • Dementia friendly layout, environment and signage, in line with The King’s Fund guidance, including themed by colour with pictures, to enable patients to move freely and easily around the ward and through the corridors
  • A dedicated space for providing a range of therapies – such as counselling, group therapy, creative activities – alongside facilities to help people relearn essential skills such as cooking and cleaning
  • More space for patients and staff to receive and deliver care in
  • More space for staff to change, shower and take breaks to support their wellbeing
  • Energy efficient with solar power, under floor heating, thermally efficient fabric to reduce heat losses and energy efficient LED lighting.
  • Four new gardens, which provide plenty of green spaces for patients and staff to enjoy.

During the opening on Friday 8 March, MP Helen Whately talked to clinical staff who will be working in the new ward when it welcomes patients on 14 March, and was also accompanied by Trust Chair, Dr Jackie Craissati, Chief Executive Sheila Stenson, KMPT staff and our external partners in the voluntary sector, wider NHS Kent & Medway, Kent County Council and Medway Council.

KMPT chief executive Sheila Stenson said: “I am delighted to see our new, state-of-the-art Ruby Ward open its doors to our patients and bring an end to the last of our old, outdated dormitory wards.

“I am committed to ensuring our buildings are fit for purpose and enable us to provide the very best care to our patients and that is exactly what we have created here. Not only will Ruby create a better day every day for our patients, it will also increase our capacity to support older people with mental health needs. 

“The new unit offers a modern working environment for our hard-working staff and is designed specifically to meet the needs of older adults with complex mental health illness, such as dementia, providing an environment that will help manage our patients’ symptoms better and support their care needs.”

Carol Ann-Thornett, KMPT engagement council chair, commented: “KMPT’s new Ruby ward is very impressive. It really sets the gold standard for care provision and it is clear that a lot of thought and careful planning has gone into the design of the ward.

“It has a very open feel, and a huge amount of outside space that will undoubtedly benefit the wellbeing of patients, visitors and staff. The individual ensuite bedrooms ensure privacy and dignity for patients, and the light and airy communal spaces, quiet rooms and activity rooms, including a piano, all help create an environment that supports healing.”

Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent said: “I’m delighted to open the new Ruby Ward at KMPT’s Hermitage Lane site. Patients receiving mental health treatment deserve dignity and privacy, and these new rooms will help to provide it. They’ll mean better working conditions for staff and better care for local residents.

“We’ve invested an extra £2.3 billion in mental health services since 2019, and replacing outdated dormitories is just part of that. Extra funding for research, talking therapies, and crisis support are all making a difference for people across Kent and Medway.”

Cheryl Parsons, regional director for Kier Construction Southern said: “We are delighted to hand over this vitally important mental health facility to Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust.

“This outstanding development will have a profound impact on the local community by providing state-of-the-art facilities for patients, staff and visitors alike in a welcoming space that aids recovery.”