Bridge House at Fant Oast

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Bridge House at Fant Oast's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Bridge House at Fant Oast is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Manager Joe O’Rourke
Accommodated in a beautiful
converted oast house
Founded in 1991, Bridge House is a nine-bed inpatient
unit based in Maidstone, Kent, that offers high-quality,
medically assisted drug and alcohol detoxification services.
Accommodated in a beautiful converted oast house, set in
tranquil gardens, the facility overlooks the farmlands of the
Medway Valley. This specialist service is part of the Kent
and Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust (KMPT).
Manager Joe O’Rourke explains how their approach helps treat
patients with a range of complex needs.
Expert care is delivered by our experienced clinical team, which consists of a
consultant addictions psychiatrist, GP, unit manager, registered mental health
nurses, healthcare assistants, Experts by Experience volunteers, chef, administrator
and housekeepers. Our highly specialised team provide tailored, person-centred,
recovery-orientated care that enables a safe, comfortable detoxification regime
alongside a psychotherapeutic programme. Our qualifications include:
»Membership of Royal College of Psychiatrists and specialist registration with the
General Medical Council (GMC);
»DGDip’s Addictive Behaviour, Counselling, Academic Practice;
»British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy;
»National Vocation Qualification Healthcare levels 3 and 4;
»Nursing and Midwifery Council Registration.
»Manager: Joe O’Rourke
»Founded in 1991
»Based in Maidstone, Kent
»No. of employees: 18
»Services: Medically assisted
inpatient detox for adults aged
18 or over
Bridge House at Fant
Treatment approach
The treatment we offer is compliant
with National Institute for Health
and Care Excellence (NICE) clinical
guidelines. Treatment is centred on
a structured daily programme to
maximise therapy opportunities with
flexibility to best meet individual
service users’ needs. We believe that a
structured day is critical to successful
treatment outcomes, built around
engaging in therapeutic activities.
»Group work: relapse prevention,
psycho-education, harm reduction;
»Recovery-focused groups;
»Cognitive behavioural therapy, 12-
step and interpersonal therapy;
»Foundations of recovery (includes
concepts of group working in The
Johari Window and topic-based
groups looking at the maladaptive,
ingrained patterns of thoughts and
behaviours that maintain addiction);
»Introduction to the fellowships of
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Cocaine
Anonymous (CA) and Narcotics
Anonymous (NA);
»Individual psychosocial interventions
and counselling;
»Peer-led activities;
»Non-mandatory chaplains group
(linking to other faith communities);
»Guided relaxation.
We strongly uphold service users’
efficacy, dignity and individual
rights. Service users are treated with
respect and supported through the
challenging journey towards recovery.
We are mindful that each service user
is still a person as well as a drug or
alcohol misuser and we encourage
the continuation and development of
personal interests as part of building
an individual’s recovery capital.
Medically assisted detoxification
All prescribing is consultant led, based
on peer-reviewed unit guidelines,
compatible with current NICE standards.
Detoxification is symptom led, nurse
monitored and titrated against validated
withdrawal scales such as Clinical
Institute Withdrawal Assessment of
Alcohol Scale (CIWA), Short Opiate
Withdrawal Scale (SOWS) and Clinical
Institute Withdrawal Assessment for
Benzodiazepines (CIWA-B).
Reductions and detoxification regimes
are planned in advance, negotiated
with the service user and are flexible
in response to emerging withdrawal
symptoms. Medications offered
include chlordiazepoxide, oxazepam,
methadone, buprenorphine, lofexidine
and Pabrinex for Wernicke’s prevention.
Complementary therapies
At Bridge House, we offer innovative
approaches such as auricular
acupuncture treatment to service users
as a complementary therapy alongside
our detoxification programme.
Auricular acupuncture has benefits
such as reduction in cravings,
alleviation of withdrawal symptoms
and the reduction of stress. Also,
to help remedy the insomnia that is
so often inherent in detoxification,
MP3 players are provided. These are
pre-loaded with music composed
to include delta waves, which are
beneficial in helping people attain an
uninterrupted night’s sleep.
The tranquil landscaped
gardens at Bridge House
You all saved
my life and I
cannot express
my gratitude
February 2018 service
Highlighting best practice
This variety of treatment modalities
and therapeutic approaches ensures
the best possible outcome for each
individual service user. We have an
excellent detoxification completion
rate (96 per cent overall), extremely
high service user satisfaction and long-
lasting input from ex-clients and carers.
We receive the most compliments of
any service within the trust.
Bridge House recognises that many
service users admitted to our unit are
nutritionally compromised. We have a
talented chef who freshly prepares all
our food, with a wide range of choice,
accommodating any specific dietary
requirements. We also employ staff
and volunteers who are in recovery
themselves. Our volunteers co-facilitate
therapy groups and share their own
recovery experiences with current
service users.
Care Quality Commission
Bridge House was rated as
“outstanding” by the CQC during
its last inspection in 2017. The
inspector from the CQC remarked
that “Staff interacted with patients
and their approach was kind
and respectful at all times. Staff
continually interacted in a positive
and proactive way. The atmosphere
was really welcoming, friendly and
warm. Throughout the ward the team
was consistently involved in patient
care and everyone’s contribution was
considered of equalvalue.”
The Health and Social Care Act 2012
transferred the responsibility for
substance misuse from the NHS to
local authorities. Consequently, Bridge
House is not part of KMPT’s mental
health block contract commissioning
arrangements; rather, it is a service
hosted by KMPT. Bed days are
bought, on a spot purchase basis,
by third sector substance misuse
community service providers such as
Turning Point, The Forward Trust and
Change Grow Live (CGL). This model
of commissioning leads to financial
insecurity for Bridge House, and as
third sector providers’ budgets are
reduced annually, the financial viability
and future for our service becomes
increasingly uncertain.
As a result of financial pressures,
several NHS detoxification units
have closed in recent months. This
will undoubtedly put more pressure
on A&E departments and acute
Given the current financial climate, we
have had a challenging two years, and
this has impacted on our ability to meet
our break-even income target. We
have worked closely with stakeholders
by tendering for and being awarded
preferred provider status for medically
assisted detoxification services to try
and rectifythis.
We are currently reviewing how to
ensure that our income is regularly
at a level that meets or exceeds both
our income target and the required
NHS four per cent cost improvement
plan savings (CIP). Therefore we are
exploring income generating ideas
such as the feasibility of admitting
privately funded service users to
Seven months
on, I am
pleased to say I
am still sober
and couldn’t
be happier. I
cannot thank
you all enough
for giving me
this second
chance of life
May 2018 service user
The group and games
room at Bridge House

This article was sponsored by Bridge House at Fant Oast. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister