Alder Hey in the Park | Alder Hey Children's Hospital

Show Menu

Dewi Jones Unit - Children's Mental Health Services

The Children's and Young People's Forum demonstrate one of the afternoon sessionsStaying at the Dewi Jones Unit has helped many children and their families to understand their problems and work out ways to get better. We know that arranging a stay can be a difficult decision to make so we’ve put together some information to give you an idea about what to expect.

If you have further questions please get in touch – we’ll be happy to give you an answer.

Why would someone need to come to the Dewi Jones Unit?

Your family will have already worked with other mental health specialists to identify issues and one of those specialists will have referred you to us. It’s a positive step! Coming to the unit has helped many children and their families to understand their problems and work out ways to get better.

How long can a child expect to spend at the unit?

There’s no concrete answer, but a stay usually lasts from six weeks to several months depending on how much work we need to do. We understand that this could be a difficult commitment, but we strongly believe that it’s the best approach for dealing with problems and preparing children for challenges in the long term.

Every six weeks a review called a ‘CPA meeting’ happens. This is where parents, doctors, healthcare professionals teachers put together the best course of action, as well as working towards deciding your child’s discharge date.

What’s the unit like?

We have space for up to nine children to stay and everyone has a room of their own.

We have play, activity and learning rooms, therapy and relaxation spaces and meeting rooms, as well as our own kitchen, dining room and garden.

There’s plenty of space for everybody, but it’s not so big that you could get lost!

What should I pack for my child?

There’s a useful checklist below, but bear in mind you’ll need enough clothes for five days. You might also want to pack:

  • Swim wear
  • Some snacks for break times
  • Posters, cards, photos etc to personalise your child’s room
  • A little pocket money (up to £5 per week)

Toiletries/bathroom items

toiletriesEach bedroom on the Unit has its own private toilet and shower room. There is also an additional bathroom on the Unit which has a toilet and nice bath. We encourage children and teenagers to maintain their own hygiene wherever possible. We provide towels but children often like to have their own towel from home. We also like children and teenagers to bring in their own toiletries and toothbrushes.


Make sure you bring enough clothes with you for five days (with extras in case of emergencies). We often take children outside daily, so suitable clothing for running around is advisable. Other regular activities we do include going to the local park, the marina, swimming, outdoor sports (such as tennis) and gardening. Pyjamas, slippers and dressing gowns are a great idea for evenings.


We provide each child with a drawer in the nursing office for valuable items such as electronic tablets, mobile phones and chargers. For safety we keep all valuable items in these drawers when people aren’t using them (your care plan will make it clear about the times). If children bring in their pocket money, we keep that secure in our locked safe until it is needed.

mobileMobile phones

We are happy for children and teenagers to bring mobile phones with them but we are not able to allow internet-enabled devices onto the Unit so mobile phones will only be able to be used for phone-calls or texts. The Unit has a private phone in a quiet room that children and teenagers can use at various times during the day. This phone is there for all children to phone their parents and everyone needs to remember to share the time fairly.

Electronic devices

Children often bring in a personal stereo or radio with them to help them to relax in the evenings. Please bring in batteries if these are required for your device. We will also have to safety-test any device before it is used.

The Unit has several TVs, DVD players, Xbox 360s, Playstations, a Wii, and CD players in the communal areas. We have lots of games and DVDs on the Unit but please remember we have very strict rules on age appropriate games, DVDs and music.


Children are welcome to bring in any activity or hobby equipment (within reason) – just mention the hobby to the staff before you bring it in and we will see what we can do!


We have our very own chef and the food cooked on the Unit offers a delicious balanced diet. Please feel free to pack snacks for your child, which will be given out at afternoon break-times. Snacks are kept in the Unit dining room in your child’s own private drawer – not in their bedroom. Morning break will be fresh fruit and yogurt unless your child’s care plan says otherwise.


Please bring any medications your child is currently taking and give them to the nursing team.

Other items

Often children and teenagers bring in addresses and phone numbers of family and friends that they might like to write/speak to. Lots of children like to bring in their diaries to write in. Your child might also like to bring stamps, teddies, or anything that helps them sleep at night.

Can I visit my child?

Yes, of course! We understand how scary it can be for children to change their routine. Families are welcome to visit between 6-8pm every evening. Staff will be around but they will generally give you some quality time together. Please note to protect privacy and confidentiality, we don’t allow visitors to use mobile phones on the unit.

What do we do about school?

Lifeskills is our on-site schoolWe have our own classroom and two teachers. With your consent our teachers will work with your child’s school and keep them fully updated so your child can continue their education. Our school day is 09:15am – 12:00pm (with a break at 10:30am).

How are patients treated?

There’s no such thing as a ‘standard plan’ because we know that every single child is different. Talking, learning, play activities and time spent with our nursing team helps us to get to know each child. This helps us to understand and respect individual strengths and talents, as well as struggles.

The team put a lot of consideration into care plans, which are tailored to each child. This takes place in case management meetings (with parents / carers), in core teams (nursing staff on the unit) and in multi-disciplinary teams (MDTs) (the wider team involved in your child’s care).

We’ll will always discuss a care plan with you and your child and take your opinions into account. A care plan will identify what works best to help when a child is struggling. They also help our staff to look out for certain things which they can use to help your child.

Sometimes, we think medication may help too but we’ll always discuss this with you first.

What happens when my child gets overwhelmed by their feelings?

This is completely normal, and we’ll never tell children off for feeling these things because we’re glad that they’re sharing them with us. We will always respect your child and we will do everything we can to keep them safe. We only expect that children express their feelings in an appropriate way, so we don’t tolerate unkind or threatening behaviour, or damaging of property.

When we get to know your child we’ll be able to look for any ‘early warning signs’ that help us to understand that things might be getting too much, and we’ll always try to help. We constantly review our risk management strategies on an individual basis so we can keep our children safe.

If a child does or says something they shouldn’t, we’ll expect them to apologise and make amends but then as far as we’re concerned that’s the end of the matter. Our staff are all trained to deal with all kinds of behaviour and we will always try to liaise with families before (this might be an outpatient or pre-admission meeting) and during a stay on the unit.

What’s the food like?

We think it’s the best food at Alder Hey! We have a dedicated chef who freshly prepares different options for lunch and tea. At breakfast and supper time, there’s toast and cereal too. We encourage the children to let the chef know if there is anything at all they would like to change.

Every child has their own bedroom at the unitHow do you help children with sleep problems?

Our night staff are always on hand to help, but usually we’re so busy during the day that children don’t struggle to get to sleep. We are happy to let children read or watch a DVD in bed if that is what helps them to sleep. We try to keep your child’s routine at the unit the same as it would be at home (within reason).

Do children have internet access?

There’s internet access in the school room, to help during lessons but other than that there’s no internet access available during a stay. Access to the internet is very closely monitored by staff.

What happens when my child leaves the Dewi Jones Unit?

Different circumstances apply to each child, but generally we pass on our thoughts and recommendations to the health specialist who referred your child to us (this might be tier 3 CAMHS for example) and they’ll take over your child’s medical care. We will also work very closely with your child’s school and help in any necessary transition period to make the journey as smooth as possible.

This site uses cookies to enhance your experience. Find out more about our cookies Accept cookies