Skip to main content

Forensic Psychiatric Hospital

Forensic Psychiatric Hospital is a secure, 190-bed facility that treats and rehabilitates individuals who have come in conflict with the law and are deemed unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible due to mental illness.
The goal of the program is to restore fitness to attend court proceedings and/or reintegrate patients gradually and safely into the community. The hospital also serves individuals who have been transferred temporarily from correctional facilities to be assessed or receive treatment for a mental illness under the Mental Health Act. The facility consists of 9 clinical units (5 secure, 3 closed and 1 open unit). 

Located in a peaceful, park-like setting, the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital supports patients with high quality, specialized clinical services, as well as a comprehensive range of vocational and rehabilitative programs.

Clinical Program Model 

The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital delivers services to patients using a Clinical Program Model, which is currently best practice in health care. Services are delivered by health care teams to meet the specific needs of the patients. Patients are grouped by illness or other needs; this model allows the team to treat patients on units that meet the needs of the patients on that unit. It also allows the team to create a larger and more closely knit multi-professional team that include psychiatrists, family physicians, social workers, nurses, clinical pharmacists, psychologists and rehabilitation staff. Additional team members may include therapeutic leisure services staff, vocational services staff, occupational therapy staff, Forensic Regional Clinic staff, and a pastor. 

The 15 clinical programs at the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital include:

Ashworth 1 – Male remand unit 
Ashworth 2 – Specialized assessment and psychiatric intensive care program 
Ashworth 3 – Neuropsychiatry program
Ashworth 4 – Severe psychosis/intensive management program Dogwood East – Women’s program
Dogwood West – Geriatric/medically frail program
Elm North – Intensive rehabilitation program
Elm South – Intensive rehabilitation program
Hawthorne House – Pre-discharge program

Care plans 

Care plans are designed according to the needs of the patient. The clinical staff at the hospital are familiar with all available medications and work with patients to find the appropriate stabilization medication for them. The goal is to assist patients into a successful reintegration into the community. Programs include medically directed treatment plans, alcohol and drug counselling, occupational therapy, therapeutic leisure services and vocational services. A full-time teacher is available to assist patients with educational opportunities and a Chaplain is on hand to address spiritual needs of the patients as/if required. 

Community access 

The treatment team at Forensic Psychiatric Hospital begins the process of discharging a patient by first determining the person’s readiness for release and needs. As a person with a mental disorder goes through the legal system, their symptoms may prevent them from fully understanding the process. The staff at the hospital is aware of this fact and part of the treatment is to help patients work through this process to the best of their ability. Patients are referred to the Forensic Regional Clinic closest to their chosen geographical location. When the team determines the patient is ready, and when the appropriate disposition from the BC Review Board is in place, the patient may be granted limited community access. 

The patient is first given permission to go out into the community for a few hours on staff escorted leaves and eventually on unescorted leaves. Following this, the team will develop a “visit leave” plan in which the patient is allowed to leave the hospital on a trial basis for up to 60 days (the duration varies with each patient). Here again, the patient’s legal order must allow for this. 

The decision to release a patient back into the community is made by the BC Review Board. Conditions of release from the hospital may include conditions of residence (whether the individual needs supervised housing or not), what level of supervision needs to be in place, and abstinence from alcohol or drugs. Once the BC Review Board grants a patient a conditional discharge, the patient is discharged to the community under the supervision of their clinical team at their nearest Forensic Regional Clinic. When the BC Review Board grants a patient an absolute discharge, the patient’s care is transferred to the nearest community mental health team or Family Physician, depending on their treatment needs. 

We encourage family members and friends to visit the hospital. More information about the hospital for family members is available under Forensic Psychiatric Services.  

Visiting hours

Tuesdays and Thursdays: 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Saturdays, Sundays and holidays: 
  • For Hawthorne House and the Cottages only, 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.
  • For all other units, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Any visits outside the usual visiting hours must be arranged through the Nurse-in-Charge of the unit and the patient's treatment team.


Each patient is limited to a maximum of 2 adult and 2 minor visitors at any one time. If more than 2 adults would like to visit the same patient at the same time, they must rotate turns. In exceptional circumstances and with prior approval from the unit and the treatment team, more than the above-stated number of visitors may be allowed.


Children under 16 years of age must be accompanied by an adult and must be supervised at all times while visiting the hospital. Children are not allowed to wander unattended in any area of the hospital, are not allowed to play on the grounds and must behave appropriately at all times.

Smoking policy

For all visitors to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital, please be advised that the buildings, grounds and parking areas are smoke-free. We kindly ask that you support our staff and patients by not bringing or sending tobacco or tobacco products to the facility.

General visiting regulations

  • On arrival, visitors are required to report to the Security Office (immediately to the right of the front entrance) to fill in the visitor registry and to confirm their identity and the specific patient to be visited
  • Security will issue a visitor tag in exchange for a suitable piece of identification, which will be returned at the end of the visit
  • The number of visitors can be restricted by the Nurse-in-Charge at any time
  • Cameras, video recorders or any other recording devices are not allowed in patient care areas
  • Devices that are able to access the Internet are not allowed at any time; a complete list of restricted items is available from the patient’s treatment team or the Nurse-in-Charge of the unit
  • Staff will use their discretion in determining the appropriateness of items brought by visitors
  • Visitors are only allowed to visit the patient who they identified at the Security Office
  • Visitors must remain in the area designated by nursing staff
  • The Nurse-in-Charge may terminate or modify visits for clinical and / or security reasons, and reserves the right to refuse visiting privileges pending a review
  • Visitors will not be allowed access if they appear to be intoxicated
  • Visitors and the items they bring to the unit may be electronically searched
  • The hospital is not responsible for lost or stolen property
  • Please note: The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital is equipped with closed-circuit surveillance cameras, and all visitors will be subject to observation by our security staff while on the premises.

Visiting on the Ashworth units

In addition to the above general regulations:

  • A maximum of 2 visitors per patient will be allowed at one time on Ashworth units
  • Visitors are not allowed to bring the following items to the Ashworth units: wallets, purses, handbags, backpacks, parcels / packages, bags, food, illegal substances, alcohol, knives or any weapons, glass or metal containers, medications, lighters or matches, or gifts for patients
  • Special arrangements for food can be made with the Nurse-in-Charge prior to visiting
  • Locked storage areas are provided for the safekeeping of handbags, etc., or if preferred, visitors may take these items back to their vehicle
  • All visiting in the Ashworth units will be supervised by nursing staff
Tab Heading

SOURCE: Forensic Psychiatric Hospital ( )
Page printed: . Unofficial document if printed. Please refer to SOURCE for latest information.

Copyright © BC Mental Health and Substance Use Services. All Rights Reserved.

    Copyright © 2019 Provincial Health Services Authority.