Cygnet Pindar House, in Barnsley, will have 22 beds for men with neurological conditions and acquired brain injuries.

It is specifically for those cases which result in challenging behaviour requiring professional support in an appropriate setting.

The facility is the latest addition to Cygnet Health Care’s portfolio and has been purpose built to provide a clinically-led, evidence-based neuropsychiatric pathway for service users.

With the aim of minimising challenging behaviour while encouraging individuals to maximise their independence, the unit represents a significant step forward in increasing national provision in this highly specialist area of care.

The service – which adds to Cygnet’s existing specialist facilities in Bristol, Birmingham, Darlington and two in Nottingham – is now taking referrals from both the NHS and other private units nationally.

Hospital manager, Jackie Ewington (pictured), is a registered mental health nurse and holds degrees in health and social care as well as violence reduction.

She was previously the Management of Violence and aggression training manager at Rampton Secure Hospital, as well as being professional lead for Nottingham NHS Trust.

Under her leadership, the hospital will offer a bespoke approach to each service user, addressing behaviours and helping them to move forward.

“In working with individuals with more challenging behaviour, we need to understand and respond to their individual needs.

“The key to avoiding conflict is getting to know them and anything that might trigger off their anxiety or aggression, and having proactive and active plans in place to reduce the risks of the behaviour escalating,” says Jackie.

“From a staff perspective, in this environment it’s important to find ways of avoiding physical, hands-on restraint. It’s about knowing your own body language and communication skills, being able to verbally de-escalate and understanding when to withdraw or use distraction techniques.

“We’ll be going out into the community and doing lots of activities. We have a carefully designed rehabilitation model which is formulated to maximise the potential and ability of each service user. Our outside space will be used to the maximum to get the men out and about moving, active and engaged.

“Generally, if individuals are a part of doing something they enjoy, they’re less likely to become violent and aggressive. Everything is about moving forward and addressing behaviours, while offering specialised support throughout their journey.”

Jackie has played a central role in preparation for the opening of Cygnet Pindar House since joining the care group last year, and is involved in all aspects, from recruitment to interior design.

The service requires a team of neuropsychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, nurses and therapy coordinators, alongside housekeepers and kitchen staff.

“A massive part of rehabilitation is to occupy individuals by finding out what they like to do, and making sure you’re providing those activities.

“We’ve also recruited physiotherapists as there will be service users with movement difficulties who may require physical rehabilitation specialised to them.”

Dietary needs are also an important consideration, says Jackie.

“We are training the kitchen staff in the provision and standards of meals for individuals with swallowing problems, for example.”

Build and design has also been influenced by Jackie, who has ensured attention to detail in creating a facility fine-tuned for the needs of the individuals it will be accommodating.

“As well as the style and the layout of the hospital, I’ve had a lot of involvement in the finishes and in specialised things for this type of environment, such as making sure that flooring flows through the building.

If someone has a neurological deficit, if you’ve got doorways where the colour changes or there’s a strip on the floor for example, they may be unsure how to navigate it.

“Also, it’s important to make sure doorframes can be easily identified and stand out. I’ve been working closely with the designer to make sure we have the most appropriate spec possible for our service users’ needs and in terms of managing their cognitive issues.”

As the facility prepares to open its doors, Cygnet is currently recruiting nurses. Although staffing is now well on track, Jackie admits she has experienced the skills shortage currently impacting on the wider healthcare sector.

“The challenge really has been with qualified nurses. We’ve been advertising for mental health, learning disability and general nurses, so that we cover all bases with the type of service users we’re going to be caring for.

“Thankfully we now have most of the staff team in place for Cygnet Pindar House and are looking forward to opening and to welcoming our first service users in the coming months.”

For more information and referrals visit

Sponsored feature