Recovery First Widnes - Female Mental Health Service

Recovery First in Widnes is a joint venture between the Priory and Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. This state-of-the-art facility provides a locked assessment and rehabilitation service for women with complex mental health needs and personality difficulties.

Two stage service

This specialist clinical pathway for women comprises of a two stage service:

Ash Ward - Intensive Support Ward (12 beds)

The focus of our Intensive Support Ward is on the admission, assessment, mental state stabilisation and management of acute behaviours, such as self-harm, aggression and hostility.  We have created an enhanced clinical environment focused on safety and privacy, which is suitable for service users with a higher risk profile. 

Dove Ward - Active Recovery Ward (12 beds)

The focus of our Active Recovery Ward is on promoting service user self-management, group therapies, community access and discharge planning in a safe clinical environment. This ward is the second stage of our clinical pathway and allows service users on a pathway to re-entering the community to develop independence and autonomy in a safe and supportive environment. 

About the two stage service

Our two stage pathway is designed to provide a robust multi-disciplinary programme of care that will empower service users to maximise therapeutic interventions, facilitate positive engagement and reduce risk behaviours. We have specifically developed this staged care process in a clinical environment that will effectively meet their needs at all stages of their recovery.

“The recent move to Dove Active Recovery Ward has been a great positive for me. Since being resident on the ward I am expected to self-manage more, but still have the support of the staff team whom I know well. I have been focusing on using the skills I have learnt to remain positive and focus on my future, and I am now attending a local college two evenings a week, which is really helping me.  Being on a ward with other service users who are at a similar stage in their recovery as me is helpful as we can support each other too, and the ward does not have the distractions of my previous ward which had service users who required a lot of support as they were still at the beginning of their care.”

Emily, who stepped down from Ash Ward to Dove Ward in 2014

Therapeutic approaches

Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT)

Our MDT team at Recovery First is composed of members from different healthcare professions with specialised skills and expertise. The members collaborate together to make treatment recommendations that facilitate quality service user focused care. This approach ensures that our approach is effectively tailored to meet their needs as they progress along the recovery pathway. 

Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) 

We are working towards delivering a Dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) approach on both wards, grounded in staff training, service user involvement and with clear and collaborative outcomes.

Our outcomes

During 2014 we have evidenced strong outcomes for service users within our care, including:

  • Reducing the level of observations needed by 50% within 3 months of admission 

Recovery first reduction in observation chart

  • Reduced incidents of self-harm and aggressive behaviour when compared to previous placement
  • Active participation in therapeutic programmes, which include community access, education at local colleges, a focus on physical healthcare, support with activities of daily living and daily community ward meetings to encourage service user participation and empowerment

Case Study: Amy

After 6 months of intensive support on Ash Ward, Amy is now ready for Dove Ward's Active Recovery approach.

Amy was admitted to Ash Ward having previously been resident in her local inpatient acute service for over 12 months. Whilst there she had failed to consistently progress; she had been aggressive towards other service users and had continued to be troubled by her thoughts and severely self-harm. As a result she had not received any leave during most of her stay there. The staff were able to manage her short-term acute behaviours but due to the way the service is configured, Amy was unable to benefit from a consistent approach, effective therapeutic boundaries or any meaningful psychological approaches developed to meet her needs and condition.

Since admission to Recovery First, Amy has benefited from a specialist staff team who have an informed understanding of borderline personality and who have been able to develop a comprehensive and multidisciplinary formulation of her presenting needs. This has allowed the team to effectively plan and deliver a programme of care to quickly progress her recovery. After 6 months on Ash Intensive Support unit Amy is now awaiting transfer to Dove Ward, our new Active Recovery service. Here she will be able to consolidate her recent learning and skills, and benefit from increased community access, further support in developing her self-management and independence skills, and focus on discharge planning.

If you have any questions about our services at Recovery First Widnes or would like to discuss a placement, please contact us on 0151 909 2725 or email