Publish date: 18 March 2024

Our new low secure service Aspen Wood, received its first service users this week.

The 40 bed learning disability site on Maghull Health Park was completed on time and budget late last year. Following a period of staff training it is now fully operational.

Aspen Art 1.jpg

Work began in 2021 to create a state of the art facility on trust-owned land, following NHS England’s commissioning changes affecting our Whalley site.

Professor Joe Raffety thanked all staff involved in the Aspen Wood process and the move.

£33m was provided from the Department of Health and Social Care toward the total £38m costs. It was constructed by IHP and Vinci and designed by northwest based architects Gilling Dod. Ahead of opening, Aspen Wood won the prestigious Clinicians Choice Award at the November 2023 Building Better Healthcare Awards. It has been highly commended at the Design in Mental Health Awards for our engagement with service users and was also highly commended at the Sefton Best Public Building Awards 2023. The site will operate to a new model of care focussed on recovery to move people through services at an appropriate speed.

Joe says: “This is about helping people to live their lives whilst recognising that those who require a secure forensic environment do need highly specialist NHS support. It’s a very different way of doing things.

“Following the outcome of the NHS England ‘Transforming Care’ programme, we’re focussed on dramatically reducing the length of stay for people who need secure care, with multi-disciplinary teams tailored to supporting people’s individual needs during that time when they require the most intensive NHS support."

Clinical lead Dr Johannes Cronje says: “I am convinced that this facility offers the most suitable environment for our patient population. We’ve taken a lot of learning into account in designing the building to create the best therapeutic environment, meeting the needs of service users and also as a high quality place for our staff to work in.”

Aspen Wood features two flexible 20-bed wards and includes spaces like immersive therapy rooms, a café and areas for sport. The interior design prioritizes simplicity, natural light, muted colour and neurodiversity-aware surfaces.

Social value was also a major factor during the build, with contractors creating many local employment opportunities, apprenticeship and work experience with the local authority and with local education establishments. More than 10 percent of construction labour was drawn from the local Sefton Council area.