By Nic Higham, Inpatient Care Project Manager
Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end. – Scott Adams
Star Wards is all about random (and organised) acts of kindness. And even though it’s International Random Acts of Kindness Week this week (February 11-17, 2018), ward staff are always well placed to be the lovely listeners, unswervingly non-judgemental, empathetic, compassionate, human, good-humoured people they are. After all, being kind-hearted shouldn’t be something we do for just one week! #RAKWEEK2018 is a reminder of how little acts can brighten up the lives of those around us and consequently make us feel good in the process.
At Star Wards we work to acknowledge and harness the enormous personal qualities and skills that staff have to help enhance inpatients’ day-to-day experiences and treatment outcomes. Marion Janner OBE set up the project following her time as a detained inpatient and her appreciation of the compassionate care she received. Rather than setting out with a list of what was wrong, Marion came up with 75 things that were right which could very simply improve the quality of life in other mental health units. If you haven’t already done so, check out our 75 ideas for making the most of in-patients’ time.
Mental health inpatient care is grounded in empathy, it’s the personal quality, and professional skill, that’s most valued by service users. Along with empathy, it takes remarkable personal qualities, resilience and imagination through a shift – particularly when some patients will be acting in ways which are challenging. But the more that staff can try to see things from patients’ perspectives, the more they can stay connected to their sense of empathy. And there needs to be a strong culture of kindness and everyone can do their bit – it’s well-established that feeling valued is one of the strongest factors in employees feeling motivated.
Initiated by the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, RAK Week is an annual event giving us all the opportunity to focus on the positive things and to meet through kindness. This year, the foundation invites us to celebrate that one person who inspires us to be better human beings. We’d love to hear what you get up to this week, and how you help your ward community to share the kindness vibes. You can find us on Twitter.
Kindness breeds kindness – every act creates a ripple. Marion was able to reflect on the exceptional care she received and share with other wards what most impacted her to powerfully spread the message of kindness. In Marion’s own words:
“Of fundamental importance is that we come from a position of deep appreciation of the work that ward staff do. I set up Star Wards partly to try to reciprocate the amazing kindness I receive when an inpatient.”
I’ll leave you with a few heart-warming kindness-themed comments we’ve been sent from some of our lovely members about their involvement in Star Wards. Oh, and if you’re not already a member, do please join us:
“Patients feel more empowered, this creates more motivation, improved relationships between staff and patients, staff and staff, less division, more optimistic attitude, improved mental health for patients and some discharges which I believe have happened sooner.”
“Giving the service users the opportunity to participate in the star wards process encouraged and facilitated a sense of involvement, belonging and responsibility for service users. It was an opportunity for them to feel that their opinions are valued.”
“Since the inception of the Star Ward initiative I have become more creative and innovative in the way I execute my role as a SHCA than before. I have made enormous contribution towards the achievement of most of the 75 Star Ward ideas.”