1 Aug

Nickable practices

We’re often asked what approaches or ‘principles’ Star Wards uses, so we’ve compiled a list of our ‘nickable’ practices. Of course we’ve nicked these from people and organisations who have done wonderful work to improve people’s lives. (See Evidence base for more details of these.)

1. Structure

Voluntary involvement by wards, ideas and inspiration not standards and compulsion

A flexible framework for:

  • shining light on, bringing together, celebrating and getting validation for existing good practice
  • structuring priority ward improvement developments


  • enables direct contact with ward
  • sense of identification with project and other members
  • contact with and inspiration from other members around the country


2. Relationship between Star Wards and members


  • patient-led initiative
  • no ‘baggage’ in relationship so easier for wards to identify with and feel warmly towards ability to make and implement decisions very quickly
  • ability to get (and spend!) funding from a range of charitable, private and  statutory sources relatively swiftly
  • can be unorthodox, innovative/risky, fun, personal/warm
  • unswerving emphasis on what’s going well in services –comparable to ‘appreciative enquiry’ approach, and infectious nature of this positivity and ‘can do’ approach
  • easy accessibility eg:
  • membership,events, first set of publications all free of charge
  • style of information, events etc very friendly, attractive and intelligible


3. Focus on ‘soft’ (but actually very hard) issues

  • what patients do and feel day-to-day
  •  staff:patient relationships especially healthcare assistants
  • relationships between patients, including:
  • nurturing ward community
  • value of mutual support
  • avoidance of conflict
  • conversation and communication
  • carers and visitors, mainly in relation to patient but also in their own right
  • holistic approach to treatment (i.e. biopsychosocialmodel)
  • holistic approach to patient’s life
  • patient self-management
  • patients (including ex-patients and patients’ reps)involvement in service planning, delivery and assessment


4. Ideas

  • all practical and most are easy and free or low-cost to introduce
  • mix of fixed (but very adaptable) 75 ideas which most members use for benchmarking, and huge scope for staff and ward initiative and adaptation
  • already in place to some extent in all wards so they get big boost right from start, especially if they do benchmarking exercise


5. Staff

  • promotion of staff autonomy, support, validation –i.e. staff being encouraged to use the full range of their skills and initiative and appropriately supported in carrying out their highly demanding role
  • empowering front-line staff – benefit from but don’t need much management permission, encouragement etc


6. Specific ideas relevant to all hospital inpatient care

  • promotion of volunteers’ involvement with patients
  • physical activity
  • nutrition
  • culturally responsive wards
  • high quality information for patients
  • recreation
  • importance of look and feel of physical environment including outdoor spaces
  • patient feedback to staff and self-review of progress
  • harnessing positive, informal relationships domestics often have with patients


What members say about the benefits of taking part in Star Wards

  • Hope
  • “It’s fun, informative and innovative. Meeting new people has also been rewarding. A brilliant way to share practice”
  • “Activities, group meetings, actually listening to what service users want. Gaining ideas from all over the UK. Being part of something new and exciting”
  • Service user led treatment and care
  • the enthusiasm it has given me and our unit to make changes
  • “It has lead to happier places for patients, carers and staff to live and work in. Much more therapies, much less incidents of absconsion, violence and aggression”
  • Enhancement of therapeutic engagement by re-energising staff to be creative and flexible in providing therapeutic activities
  • It has encouraged us to talk to each other and the patients/carers in uncovering a wealth of ideas that will improve the patient experience
  • Helps to get staff motivated and news from other wards proves that it can be done. If they’re doing it why can’t we?
  • The recognition of the positive changes we have made and achieved
  • It has made people think differently about how we run our services
  • The potential to transform in patient care
  • A simple quick systemic approach to improving patient experience that is not cost or labour intensive
  • “Listening to service users/patients tell me that””it’s so much better than before.”
  • “It has made the team think about some amazing ideas that alone we wouldn’t have come up with and so has made the team adapt and become more open-minded to trying new and innovative ideas – thereby benefiting our services user. We are in the process of making some big changes (to do with Star Wards) so I feel service-users and the ward in general. Biggest gains are yet to come.
  • “Altered the sense of autonomy of staff and patients wresting power from above. Overcoming negativity and creating a “”we can do it”” for patients and front line staff.”
  • “Knowing that something like this is happening in the UK,that we might be able to adapt in NZ!!!! Feels very hopeful reading the success stories!!”
  • Empowering unqualified staff to take a more active role in delivering activities and also promoting a hospital-wide multi-professional approach to improving the hospital environment
  • “Brilliant publications with funny, down to earth, real ways to help people when they are at their most unwell. Good levels of PR in the press to raise awareness. It’s a good news story to counter all the negative press”
  • “Structure, enterprise, inspiration”
  • The momentum and improvements in activity and therapies that we now provide compared to a year ago. Great networking and sharing opportunity