Hello again from marion

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I’m sorry I’ve been so behind-the scenes (and occasionally wilting behind the scenery) the last few months. The bumpiness of my mental health at least meant I got to have a good old experiential catch-up on front-line Star Wards’ action. Yes, I popped back for my annual fortnight’s break at St Ann’s, Tottenham. As well as being another healing stay on Lordship Ward, it was incredibly exciting to walk (well, slump) in to the ward and see a huge Star Wards’ Activities’ notice-board. With a 7 day a week lively programme of opportunities for us.

The strongest change was that the staff had energetically embraced the importance of talking with patients and somehow always managed to prioritise this, day and night. A close second was that last year’s bargain hanky of an excuse for an undersheet had been replaced by one that remained on the plastic mattress all night.

Some of you (we’d like to hope many many) will have seen on our website that we’ve produced TalkWell, a training resource for ward managers to support HCAs in ‘therapeutic conversation’, and schmoozing with patients. While in hospital, I was constantly struck by the multiple skills the staff have to deploy when talking with patients, especially when we’re at our most distraught and/or least reasonable. We’re soon going to be sending out a luscious copy for each ward, and in the meantime you can preview, download – and start enjoying TalkWell via:

There’ve been all sorts of other developments at Bright over the last few months. The most noticeable change is that Sarah and Nick have left. Gone. Moved on. Yes, I’m still coming to terms with the loss of Sarah’s exquisite people and projects’ skills and Nick’s CarryOn-esque humour and love of stationery. One small consolation but gigantic step for north London aficionados is that we’ve wrestled back geographical dominance and activated our occupation strategy. We’re now occupiers of a tiny office in Archway, north London, we being Bright’s fabulous new office manager, Ana Tailor, and Buddy and me. (Where she goes, I go.)

Many thanks to all of you who completed our Ridiculously Big Star Wards’ Survey. The findings are invaluable in our being able to plan our work according to what is most needed. Alan is finishing writing up the findings which we’ll disseminate soon along with a broader, delightful more than independent evaluation of the impact of our jokes, ideas, dogs, resources….

We’ve been astonished and thrilled that quite a few wards are tenaciously working towards getting the Full Monty award, for having versions of all the relevant 75 ideas in place. I went on Friday to the staggeringly wonderful Bowman LSU in Bodmin, who are exemplary in so many ways, from having a highly effective social inclusion worker to the quintessentially simple facility of a ward card for the local library along with an ability to take out up to 18 books at once.

And then there’s Cheshire and Wirral Partnership! They have (slowly building drum roll – if you’ve got an iphone you’ve probably got an application for this)… achieved Full Monty status in (minstrels play trumpets…)… in every single one of their 18 wards, which are spread across 4 hospitals in a vast area of this fine land. It’s an enormous achievement for a ward to gain this award, and always reflects inspired, therapeutic practices way beyond the 75. But it’s a remarkable feat of leadership as well as of frontline excellence for this quality to be so consistent right across inpatient services. We’ll put up the photos of the joyous presentations on the website soon.

Still in Cheshire and Wirral, their super-talented senior OT Jane Tyrer is a pioneer by generously agreeing to take the lead on what will be a fantastic new ‘personal development’ resource for inpatients. Jane and colleagues use WRAP very creatively so we’re very lucky (and very very grateful) that Jane is creating SpaceBook in liaison with patients.

I hope the summer has gone well for you and yours and look forward to hearing your news.

Love marion

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