The Dene

Gatehouse LaneGoddards GreenHassocksWest SussexBN6 9LE

Tel.01444 231 000


World class treatment for women with personality disorders

The Amy Johnson Ward is a 10-bedded locked facility, located within the spacious and tranquil grounds of The Dene in West Sussex. This specialist service is designed to assist female patients with personality disorders to effectively manage their intense emotions, tolerate distress, develop interpersonal skills, and alleviate the challenges associated with their condition.

Patients will benefit from calm, rural surroundings and a therapeutic environment, making the Amy Johnson Ward the ideal place to undergo comprehensive recovery-focused therapy. Our experienced specialists employ an inclusive, positive and non-restrictive approach and utilise established treatment methodology, in order to guarantee the best possible outcomes for each and every one of our patients.

Amy Johnson Ward patient profile

The Amy Johnson Ward provides expert care for:

  • Women aged 18 years and over
  • Informal or formal patients who have been detained under the Mental Health Act
  • Patients presenting with emotionally unstable personality disorder (EUPD)
  • Patients presenting with associated co-morbidities including Asperger’s syndrome, trauma, psychosis and eating disorders

Our specialised service is not suitable for patients with:

  • Antisocial personality
  • Psychopathy
  • A history of instrumentally violent behaviour and/or assaults
  • A history of severely undermining security measures and/or therapeutic milieus

Personality disorder treatment on the Amy Johnson Ward

The treatment model that we offer to patients on the Amy Johnson Ward is guided by the very latest research within the field of personality disorder treatment, and adheres to robust National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT)

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), which is widely used in the treatment of personality disorders, combines the principles of cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) with mindfulness techniques. DBT is specifically designed to support individuals who experience the very intense, often destructive emotions that are associated with personality disorder diagnoses. In DBT, therapy is focused on creating a balance between the concepts of acceptance and change, encouraging patients to accept their behaviours and emotions whilst also equipping them with the motivation to change the way that they respond to and cope with them.

DBT targets four core areas, which personality disorder patients typically struggle with. These include:

  • Tolerating distress
  • Managing crises
  • Developing more effective interpersonal relationships
  • Identifying and regulating current emotional states

Amy Johnson Ward DBT pathway

The DBT pathway that we implement on the Amy Johnson Ward, ultimately aims to reduce problem behaviours, increase skills mastery and enable reintegration back into the community. The pathway includes four key stages:

  • Stage 1: Behavioural/emotional control

From assessment and admission up to 3 months into a patient’s stay, the focus of DBT is on controlling emotions and behaviours and reducing negative responses such as self-harm, suicidal impulses and recklessness.

  • Stage 2: Emotional experiencing

The following 6 months of DBT aims to teach patients how to tolerate and regulate their intense emotions. Individual trauma therapy is also offered at this stage.

  • Stage 3: Ordinary happiness and unhappiness

Months 9-12 of DBT focus on encouraging patients to experience normal levels of happiness and unhappiness as opposed to the very extreme emotions that they are used to. This stage also allows patients to visit community settings in order to apply their new skills in a practical capacity.

  • Stage 4: Developing a capacity for joy

The final stage in a patient’s DBT journey is to enable them to develop the capacity for joy, before they are discharged into a community setting.

Therapy types

The Amy Johnson Ward DBT programme is delivered via a variety of established therapy types and structures. These include:

  • Behavioural Support Pathway
  • Skills groups
  • Individual therapy
  • Team consultations
  • 1:1 coaching

Patient involvement

A core component of the Amy Johnson Ward treatment model is our commitment to involving patients at every stage of their treatment journey. Our patients are encouraged to collaborate with our team on:

  • Treatment/management plans
  • Behavioural support
  • Goal setting
  • Risk assessment
  • Interviewing and recruiting new staff
  • Marketing initiatives e.g. video presentations of the service

Family and carer involvement

We also encourage the families and carers of patients to become involved in the treatment journey. Families and carers are invited to attend our Care Programme Approach (CPA) meetings, ward rounds, family days, and provide feedback on the service via our bi-annual survey. Upon completion of the treatment programme, patients enjoy a graduation ceremony which families and carers are also invited to attend.

Programme length

The treatment programme that we offer for personality disorders is one year in duration. During this time, we aim to equip our patients with the necessary skills to manage their personality disorder and move into a community-based setting. The one year timeframe is long enough to allow real improvements to take place, but not so long that patients lose the motivation to progress.

Discharge pathway

Upon discharge, patients undergo a step-down pathway to a community placement, either via supported housing, independent living, or back to family or carers. We pride ourselves on maintaining close links with care co-ordinators and commissioners, which our experience shows is vital to ensuring effective and sustainable recovery.

Our team

Our world class team possess unrivalled clinical experience in supporting women with personality disorders. Our diverse multidisciplinary team (MDT) consists of experts in the field of mental health and is comprised of:

  • Consultant psychiatrists
  • Clinical psychologist
  • Assistant psychologist
  • Ward doctor
  • Registered mental health nurses (RMN)
  • Registered general nurses (RGN)
  • Therapist specialty nurse
  • Healthcare assistants
  • Therapy and care assistants
  • Social worker
  • Occupational therapist
  • Unit manager

Our specialist team work together seamlessly and ensure that intra-team communication is an integral part of our service, as a means of providing the best possible care to patients. As well as engaging in continuous informal dialogue, our specialists regularly attend formal meetings, in accordance with best practice. These include:

  • Weekly ward rounds
  • DBT consultations
  • Monthly reflective practice meetings
  • Monthly ward clinical governance meetings
  • Risk meetings
  • CPA meetings

Excellent outcomes

We utilise a wide array of outcome measures as a means of assessing the quality of our service provision. These measures include:

  • Health of the Nation Outcome Scores (HoNOS)
  • Warwick-Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Scale (WEMWBS)
  • Work and Social Adjustment Scale (WSAS)
  • Beck Depression Inventory (BDI)
  • Borderline Evaluation of Severity Over Time (BEST)
  • Collective and individual incident rates
  • Group feedback
  • Length of stay
  • Patient and carer satisfaction surveys

The service that we provide is regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC), and demonstrates a consistently strong track record of clinical quality.

Referral and assessment process

The Amy Johnson Ward referral and assessment process is completed in two clear stages:

  • Stage 1: Each referral request is reviewed in detail by a senior clinician. If the patient is deemed suitable for our service, they will be invited to attend a face-to-face initial assessment meeting, at the location of their choice. The patient will also be invited to Amy Johnson Ward for a site visit.
  • Stage 2: During a patient’s site visit, they will undergo further interviews and psychometric assessments. The patient will also receive comprehensive information on the treatment model and expectations. Families and carers are encouraged to attend at this stage.

Following the completion of stages one and two, a formal decision is made regarding the patient’s placement. Placement is usually completed within three weeks of receiving the initial referral request.

We are pleased to accept referrals from across the UK.