In May, 2023 we visited the New Life Centre near Skipton, North Yorkshire. The Centre itself is based in a renovated farmhouse, in the beautiful grounds of the Broughton Hall estate. The Centre itself was established just over a year ago by Dr Amal Beaini who has 45 years experience in psychiatry and other addiction services. The rest of the team is made up of specialist GP’s, Registered General and Mental Health Nurses and therapists; all of whom work together with patients to develop a ‘Personal Treatment Programme’ to suit an individual’s needs.
On arrival at The New Life Centre we were greeted by the General Manager – Sam and given a tour of the farmhouse and grounds. The farmhouse itself has a home from home feel with comfortable furnishing throughout. The ground floor consists of a lounge, dining room, fully functioning kitchen and one bedroom. The rest of the bedrooms are located upstairs. All bedrooms are fully furnished with ensuites.
There’s a cottage garden at the rear of the property and some of the outbuildings converted into therapy rooms. It’s intended that the other outbuildings will undergo renovation to provide up to 16 more rooms for patients. As the farmhouse is set on the Broughton estate there’s acres of open countryside surrounding the Centre.
After the guided tour we were able to meet the resident Mental Health Nurse – Matt and visiting Therapist – Rebecca who explained that all patients are individually assessed to gain an understanding of the person as a whole; in other words the bio psycho social aspects of each individual are central to their treatment plan. The patient’s individual needs and desires are considered during every aspect of every day; somedays an individual may not feel like getting involved. In this respect treatment programmes are far less regimented than other programmes which follow the 12 Steps.
Initial detox from substances generally takes about 2 weeks and is carefully managed by medical staff through prescribed oral medication. It’s also important to note that patients are often dual diagnosed with a mental health issue that is co-occurring with their addiction. Due to these valuable assessments both issues can be part of the individual’s treatment plan .After the initial detox patients are encouraged to undertake self care, such as cooking, tidying their living space. They are also actively encouraged to bring their hobbies and interests from home with them. Patients are supported throughout their stay by medical staff and therapists to achieve maximum benefit for themselves and stay on average 4 to 6 weeks.
As the Centre is set in spectacular countryside patients are encouraged to go for walks in nature with a member of staff as it’s good for their mental health and general wellbeing. Once a patient has been assessed as not at risk they can walk on the grounds themselves. Very often Matt does his counselling sessions with his patients whilst walking in the grounds – fondly known as ‘Matt’s Chats’; protected time for the patients with a professional who can guide and direct their treatment. Some patients enjoy hugging ‘Marion’ and ‘Edith’; two well established trees or climbing up ‘Bad Boy’ crag. Patients are also encouraged to go with a family member or member of staff for a coffee or to have their hair done. Family pets are also welcome to visit too.
Patients are encouraged to interact with each other through cooking, gardening, arts and craft activities, meditation, yoga and going out in nature.One of the favourites being a ‘bake off’ competition.
There is also provision for individuals to be supported as outpatients but for this to occur an individual must be ‘clean’ before entering into a treatment programme.
The Centre also provides ongoing support for patients that have gone through a treatment programme and the staff will also help liaise with other services such as housing before patients leave The New Life Centre.
One of the overriding advantages of the ethos that the Centre adopts is that patients are encouraged to engage in ‘normal’ day to day life , thus preparing them for the transition back into homelife away from the Centre.
As this is a private facility treatment can be accessed via BUPA (possibly AXA in the near future) or funded by the individual and/or their family.
We found the visit to The New Life Centre very interesting and far removed from the concept of the 12 Steps. It’s impressive in that due to the Centres unique configuration, staff have more time to treat patients more as individuals, due to smaller numbers and that their physical/emotional well being is very much the core to their individual treatment programmes.