Dementia patients shape design of new mental health unit in Kent

WATCH: ITV Meridian's Kit Bradshaw was shown around Ruby Ward ahead of opening day

A new mental health unit, designed specifically for older patients, has opened in Kent.

The 16-bed Ruby Ward is housed in a new stand-alone building, close to Maidstone Hospital.

The facility will treat those with severe and complex mental health needs but many patients are also likely to be living with dementia.

The new £12.6 million unit replaces the outdated inpatient services previously located at Medway Maritime Hospital.

The building has dementia-friendly signage and colour-coded doors.

The building on Hermitage Lane pictured during construction in May 2023. Credit: KMPT

Sheila Stenson, chief executive of Kent and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership, said: “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.”

Helen Whately, MP for Faversham and Mid Kent, said: “We’ve invested an extra £2.3 billion in mental health services since 2019, and replacing outdated dormitories is just part of that.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.”

The investment is part of an NHS England drive to eradicate ‘dormitory’ style wards in inpatient mental health facilities.

Ruby ward will serve residents from across Kent and the new building increases capacity from 10 beds to 16 beds to meet inpatient needs for the county.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know…