Women's Mental Health

Our high dependency (high support) inpatient rehabilitation unit in Northampton provides care for women with severe and enduring mental health disorders and complex needs.

Thornton ward provides specialist rehabilitation services for women with mental health disorder, providing a recovery focused environment to facilitate discharge to successful community living.

Patients on Thornton will have either moved through St Andrew’s women’s mental illness pathway, which provides both medium and low secure care, or have been admitted from another provider or the community.

Admission considerations

Our admission criteria is for women (or transgender women as per the Gender Recognition Act) over the age of 18, who have severe and enduring mental disorder and complex needs and who can be safely treated in a high dependence unit.

Patients will have a primary diagnosis of schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, personality disorder, or ASD, usually with additional diagnoses.

Patients may:

  • have a mild learning disability and severe, enduring, and complex mental health needs, requiring rehabilitation
  • have a physical disability but able to weight bear
  • be symptomatic, with manageable fluctuations, will be considered.


  • Low risk, with no significant physical aggression for six months.
  • Moderate to low risk of verbal aggression.
  • Occasional risk of mild aggression to others, or risk of self-harm as low/moderate with no recent periods of prolonged enhanced support.

Patients may also have:

  • a low/moderate risk of absconding and/or a moderate risk of vulnerability
  • a low to moderate risk of alcohol and substance misuse off the ward and may lack insight into the relationship between substances/offending /mental illness.

Women who meet criteria for detention under the Mental Health Act 1983 or Criminal Procedure (Insanity and Unfitness to Plead) Act 1991. Women are likely to be detained under Sections 3, 37 and 47.

Informal with the agreement of the patient.

The service will be unable to meet the needs of patients with a primary diagnosis of moderate and severe intellectual disability or significant and progressive cognitive impairment, as well as a primary diagnosis of alcohol or substance misuse. Thornton is unable to accommodate women who are pregnant..

Spacious bright ward environment

Bright dining room

Single bedrooms

Outside ward courtyard

Ward garden

Activities room

Tompkins patients and staff cafe

On site hairdressers

Treatment and care

Thornton offers a recovery focused environment where;

  • support and care is co-developed with patients and delivered to meet their specific needs
  • the emphasis is on relational security and providing gender specific interventions 
  • gender-specific and gender-sensitive principles are evident throughout the pathway and therapy plans are adapted to meet the individual needs of each woman.

The Thornton pathway is supported by a comprehensive, in-house multi-disciplinary team with specific expertise in women’s rehabilitation, and access to the wider St Andrew’s and women’s services, enabling the specific needs of this patient group to be met.

More than 35 hours of therapy per week are offered, including:

  • individual and group psychological therapies including psychoeducation, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), emotional coping skills and alcohol and substance misuse work.
  • occupational therapy, Speech and Language Therapy (SaLT)
  • social work support, including family liaison, focusing on discharge planning
  • educational and vocational activities
  • physical activities.

There is a real emphasis on vocational and life skills to aid transition back in to the community and address the important issue of relapse prevention.

Rehabilitation pathway ethos

A comprehensive vocational pathway is provided for the women in our care through a combination of voluntary community placements with local providers, and Workbridge, part of St Andrew’s offering opportunities to take part in meaningful activities, and engaging in community life through a variety of activities.

The emphasis within the Thornton pathway is on developing a recovery focused programme of care:

  • Whole systems approach
  • Focus on relational security
  • Gender sensitive environment
  • Gender led care with a greater availability of female staff/care coordinators
  • Gender specific interventions such as St Andrew’s Psychosocial manualised treatment programme, which includes: substance misuse, emotional regulation, body image, self-care therapy and physical health
  • Involvement of female peer workers
  • Individualised joint care planning (using My Shared Pathway tool)
  • Joint staff training programme
  • Safety planning
  • On-going gender specific research and development

 The aim is for both patients and staff to work together towards establishing a true co-developed and co-delivered culture of care, conducive to enhancing recovery and rehabilitation.

"Thornton ward provides gender sensitive rehabilitation with a focus on supporting recovery and safety for women who may otherwise be vulnerable in a non-specialist environment.


Recovery is central to the ethos of Thornton unit, from ensuring that individual patient care is focussed on the patient’s goals and aspirations, to the ward management team including people with lived experience. Relational security is key to maintaining safety for all, with an emphasis on community based activities, leading to an atmosphere that provides hope."


Dr Shawn Mitchell
Consultant Psychiatrist, Thornton, St Andrew's

Next steps

Working within the Section 117 after-care processes, a tailored discharge plan, including relapse prevention is implemented and coordinated by the multidisciplinary team. Working collaboratively with all the providers involved, the social work team work hard to ensure a seamless transition, working to MAPPA guidance (multi-agency public protection) where applicable.

St Andrew’s is able to offer highly bespoke community care packages supporting women with complex requirements for agreed periods of time, following discharge. Specific requirements can be discussed and funding agreed in advance with service commissioner.

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