Published on: 1st July 2019

A new crisis care mental health service for adults, called a Safe Haven, was officially opened in Oldham providing overnight support in a comfortable environment.

Our Safe Haven, based in Forest House at The Royal Oldham hospital, was officially opened by Cllr. Sean Fielding and aims to ensure people can quickly and easily receive the right support, in the right setting, from mental health professionals.

Cllr Fielding with safe haven staff.jpgThe service is delivered together with local charities Tameside, Oldham and Glossop Mind and Positive Steps and has already seen 90 patients since it opened its doors in January.

Our team there take the time to speak to each patient about the issues they’re experiencing and what support could best meet their needs then refer or signpost them to longer-term support.

It offers an alternative for people who previously may have ended up waiting to be seen in an emergency department or admitted to an inpatient ward. The Safe Haven provides a comfortable environment with sofas and space to make a brew and have a chat. Patients who attend their local A&E or are referred by their care-coordinator use it improving their experience and reducing pressure on hospital and urgent care services.

Jacqueline Stewart, our director for mental health and learning disability said: “This Safe Haven will make a huge difference to the local community.

"When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis having somewhere safe, calm and comfortable where they can sit and take the time to share everything they’re feeling is so important.

"We are hopeful this scheme will reduce the likelihood of their problems becoming worse and increase the chance of achieving a recovery.

Mark Challender, who has used the service, explained: “After reaching crisis point 111 told me to attend Royal Oldham and I felt fearful about what it would be like when I arrived.

"I was surprised when I came to the Safe Haven – it was such a nice environment with friendly staff. I felt comfortable and the staff couldn’t do enough; helping me to break down my problems and referring me to services such as bereavement counselling.

"They also offered me practical support the next day which made a big difference – in the days following I actually woke up with a bit of a smile on my face.”

Cllr Fielding cutting the ribbon.jpgCouncillor Sean Fielding, leader of Oldham council, said: “Services like the Safe Haven are so important – there is clearly significant demand and providing effective help immediately can be the difference between life and death.

"When you present with a potential mental health crisis, the last thing you want is to be left to navigate a complex system. Through partnership and services like the Safe Haven we can make this journey as smooth and seamless as possible.”

The Safe Haven was developed by us in collaboration with Oldham Clinical Commissioning Group, the Northern Care Alliance NHS Group (who run The Royal Oldham hospital) and Oldham Cares (an alliance of local health, social care and voluntary organisations); with funding from the Greater Manchester Health and Social Care Partnership.  It’s part of ongoing work to transform mental health services for people in Oldham and Greater Manchester with a second Safe Haven opened in Rochdale.