The PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit)

Work to build a new eight-bed psychiatric intensive care unit (PICU) at the Warneford Hospital is well underway with a planned opening due in Spring 2023. The building, supported by NHS England/Improvement funding, will enable young people who are acutely unwell to receive specialist mental health in a safe environment close to home. The care they receive will also be supplemented with recreational facilities and access to education to provide continuity with their lives at home. Patients will have access to professionally qualified staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week offering skilled mental and physical health care. There will be an interactive and sociable environment where everyday communication between young people and staff is encouraged.

How Oxford Health Charity will be supporting the PICU

Oxford Health Charity and the team at the new PICU have been working together to identify how the spaces created within the unit can be further enhanced to make the most difference to the young people staying there.  These enhancements aim to boost the range of activities young people will be able to be involved with, enhance their experience of being in the unit and provide them with additional therapeutic spaces.

The plans have been created with patients in mind and ideas have been taken from existing projects already in place at the Highfield Unit (the adolescent mental health unit alongside the new PICU at the Warneford) or from young people involved with the services.  There are four main areas of focus for our charity appeal:

  • Gym – creating a separate gym room for the young people within the garden for them to exercise safely away from the main ward space
  • Sensory Room – creating a bespoke sensory space to give the young people time out – this will be particularly important for young people with autism and other sensory related concerns
  • Garden – enhancing the green space with raised beds for gardening projects, garden activities and weather proof seating
  • Art – creating unique pieces of art with the young people at the PICU and the Highfield to be displayed in the unit and garden areas

The gym will be the biggest part of the appeal with approximately £80,000 needed to create the standalone building and equip it with the exercise items identified by the young people as most important. The sensory room will be a further £20,000, a large proportion of which will be on interactive sensory lights and projections to aid the young people using the room. The rest of the funds will be used to create a safe and engaging garden experience for those at the unit and to co-produce art to enhance the whole unit, garden and visitor spaces.

Work is already underway with some of the arts projects to identify how these will take shape within the unit and local artists have been commissioned to work alongside the young people to bring their ideas to life.

How can you get involved?

You can make a difference to young people experiencing serious mental ill health by getting involved – making a donation, donating a specific item for the garden, gym or sensory room, taking part in a fundraising event or, if you work for a company who allow this, making the PICU your charity appeal of the year. Please get in touch [email protected]

Our first area of focus has been to start working with the young people in our existing adolescent mental health unit in Oxford, the Highfield, to start creating art designs for the new building.  You can see some of the ideas being developed on twitter - Tom Cox on Twitter: "Fantastic workshop to begin designing artwork for the new PICU @OxfordHealthNHS. Thanks to @OxHealthCharity and artist Anne-Marie Cadman and Miranda Bence-Jones https://t.co/Dt77yejMcN" / Twitter.  The team have also been working on all the planning requirements for the outdoor gym room with the hopes that this can be installed ahead of the PICU opening next year.

If we are fortunate enough to reach our appeal total, then any additional donations will be placed in our PICU Development fund, helping other future charity projects for this unit.