The high care unit is a small facility, usually about ten beds only, where patients diagnosed to be at high risk either to themselves or others, or to be very seriously ill, for example, actively psychotic, are treated in a safe, secure environment providing a higher level of individual care and monitoring than the rest of the units. All patient beds are located close to the nursing station so that they can be observed 24 hours a day.
Although the high care unit is a voluntary unit, it is a locked space, separate from the other units in the hospital, with a higher ratio of nursing and therapeutic staff to patients. Some patients requiring high care might be considered to be "assisted" patients, which means that they are not capable of making informed decisions about their care but have not refused the health interventions (in terms of the Mental Health Care Act of 2002).
Patients might spend part of their hospital stay in high care and then be moved into other less intense areas of care in the hospital as they start to recover.
This high care unit is run strictly according to Department of Health guidelines to ensure the safety of patients, families and staff.