28 Nov



Star Wards is the main project of the social justice campaigning charity Bright. We work collaboratively with the full range of mental health wards to improve inpatients’ daily experiences and treatment outcomes. Ward staff have responded incredibly enthusiastically to the ideas, examples and validation we provide, by introducing mainly small changes which have a big, sustainable impact.

“The project is about making sure we occupy the days of our inpatients with meaningful activities. We did some of this before anyway, but now it is much more structured as we have a planned weekly rota of activities which the service users have welcomed with open arms. It has helped us to manage aggression on the ward and is helping to increase engagement between staff and patients.”


Our vision is that on all mental health wards:

  • Talking therapies play as substantial a role as medication.
  • Patients are supported in enhancing their management of their symptoms and treatment.
  • There is a strong culture of patient mutual support
  • A full programme of meaningful and therapeutic daily activities
  • Patients retain and build on their community ties.


Star Wards is simply the catalyst to ward improvements. With a co-production model, we create ideas, discover and publicise existing great practice and wards then adapt and develop these and make a positive impact. By staff sharing their innovations with us, we can pass these on to our members. The absence of compulsory standards enables them to feel confident about their skills and to creatively deploy these to introduce transformative practices.



We’re slightly obsessed about impact. Star Wards only exists to make life on mental health wards better for patients, staff and visitors, so it’s got to achieve this. A more complicated issue is – what is sufficient impact? Ultimately it is for us a combination of:

  • scale of impact (how many wards are benefiting from our resources and initiatives)
  • are the most vulnerable or least powerful people being better supported (patients, staff and visitors)
  • sustainability of impact


We’ve been very fortunate to have had two pieces of research carried out about Star Wards’ impact. Prof Alan Simpson at City University carried out the members’ survey. Key results include:

  • Improvements in staff morale, patient satisfaction and quality of care, less boredom and improvements in ward atmosphere and environment. A wide range of creative, innovative initiatives and new facilities have been introduced.
  • Reduction in aggression on the ward was reported by 71%
  • An increase in patient-focused activities on 83% of the wards, with over a third reporting a ‘big’ or ‘massive’ difference


Philip Kemp and colleagues at South Bank University worked with North East London Foundation Trust to evaluate the impact of introducing both Productive Ward and Star Wards. Their article How to turn innovations into everyday practice was published in the October 2011 edition of Mental Health Practice and outlines some incredible achievements by NELFT eg:

The number of recorded incidents fell from an average of 30 per month during the first three months of the first year to an average of 13 per month during the last three months. And the average length of stay declined from 25.5 days to 20.3 days. Other remarkable service improvements included:

  • service users reported being:
  • offered more information when they arrived on the wards
  • more involved in decisions about their treatments
  • more occupied in useful and relevant activities
  • respected more
  • more satisfied with the care they received.
  • new group activities  were developed in consultation with service users eg carer support, health and wellbeing, and ‘hearing voices’, and a comprehensive programme of group activities now takes place on each ward.
  • the development of a ward library, a gardening group and a ward-based internet café, and the running of regular movie nights.



By downloading our resources, you will be automatically added to the Star Wards mailing list.

Impact Review report 2013 with tangible results appendix

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Star Wards Impact Review 2010 in brief

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Star Wards Impact Review 2010

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