Newton ward is presented the Full Monty award

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Congratulations goes to Newton ward on completing their 75 Star Wards ideas benchmarking sheet and Full Monty report!

Newton, which is a unit for men over the age of 18 years, is based within Urgent Care Services at St Georges Park in Northumberland, includes assessment and treatment and rehabilitation. The ward has a specific role in meeting the needs of service users who require specialist, intensive interventions, and the promotion of independence whilst working towards their recovery pathway. The main aim of urgent care services at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is to provide care within a least restrictive environment possible.

The impact of Star Wards

Star Wards provides a space for looking at the great practice that’s already happening, brilliance that is habitually (but innocently, often due to sheer busyness) overlooked by staff but which is actually exceptional. The benchmarking sheet is an ideal opportunity for recognising, celebrating and organising existing good practice. The process of working through the benchmarking sheet gives staff a real uplift.

For Newton, the new ideas have changed patients’ experiences by making them feel more valued and listened. The team told me that the ward community are really keen to be involved. The best aspects of going through the 75 ideas included: the realisation of what staff actually did and how keen staff they were, working closer with occupational therapy, and looking at what other great things the team could do. Staff involved in the ward’s Star Wards project were surprised about how many of the ideas were already in place:

“Thanks to the structure of Star Wards, we are now achieving all ideas.”

Getting Involved

Because Newton’s inpatients have a history of frequent use of inpatient care and difficulty in maintaining engagement, they benefit from a structured environment and intensive a therapeutic programme built around activity and social inclusion. Nurturing a strong culture of patient mutual support is essential. A wonderful aspect of being on a ward is the support and advice patients give each other and many lasting friendships have been built from these times. A member of staff told me:

“We have regular community and mutual help meetings which have proven to be beneficial giving service users and staff opportunity to share ideas which we take forward. We foster an open forum of communication between service users and staff members regardless of role or designation.”

One of Newton’s most successful activities is the ‘social lunch’ which takes place every Wednesday. Everyone works together to cook a meal for the ward community. Patients and staff sit down together to eat. This helps to break down barriers, increases equality, and reduces the rate of incidents on the ward.

The introduction of Star Wards can be a catalyst for effectively introducing new activities and practices which go on to enhance everyone’s day-today experiences. Having a keen manager and an enthusiastic activity co-ordinator and are the best possible start to a fruitful Star Wards project. A rich programme of therapeutic and social activities seven days a week is essential. The one thing inpatients usually have a lot of is time. Newton ward is fortunate to have two full-time activity workers and regular occupational therapy input.

Here’s an impressive list of the sorts of activities offered:

  • Breakfast and newspaper groups
  • Smoothie groups
  • Cooking, self-catering (access throughout the day), themed cooking nights (guest cooks from any discipline take the lead previously supervised by ward consultant)
  • Craft groups
  • Fishing
  • Cinema
  • out and about groups
  • Table tennis
  • Pool competitions
  • 1:1 planned individual activity (service user’s choice)
  • Onsite gym
  • Community centre on site which users can access when planned events are held
  • Multi-sensory room has now been implemented
  • The ward has a KIT( keep in touch) system implemented on the ward with an identified computer for patients individual internet access
  • Petty cash is available for activity prizes, cookery supplies, art and craft supplies and gardening supplies and service users are involved in organising which groups are going to be taking place through community meetings


It’s clear that staff and service users have been working very hard to enhance the ward, and that the new ideas have provided more enriching opportunities. It’s wonderful to hear that service users now have greater opportunity to feel more empowered and that they they have a noticeable co-piloting ethos.


Brilliant stuff, Newton, well done!



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