Hello to all you Star Wards stars. I’m Sam Wilson, ward worker and newsletter editor and this is my blog to welcome you!
Hopefully the members’ newsletter will inspire you in the amazing work you do and feel proud to share it with other Star Wards members. And please tell anyone who is not a member to come and join in. There’s room for everyone and we can all learn from each other.
I’m delighted to help share the great examples of ward practices that happen every day on wards with Star Wards members. I think the smallest positive change can have a massive impact. I’ve seen it happen, as you will find out.
A Bit About Me and Our Ward
I’ve worked in mental health for around 7 years, and on wards for about 5 of them. At first I worked as part of the Nursing Team, and now as part of the Occupational Therapy Team.
Our ward became a Star Wards member approximately 3 years ago – and what a difference it made! To start with, it gave us the confidence to look at what we were doing well, – and we found we were achieving well over half of the 75 Star Wards ideas. Needless to say we were amazed and quietly proud. So Star Wards gave us the ability to see what we WERE doing well before we began talking about what we wanted to improve. 3 years on and it’s now more like three quarters of the ideas are integrated in to everyday practice and the others are coming along nicely. Oh yes – we’ll be applying for the Full Monty soon!
Old and New Facilities
One of the big positive changes has also been changing ward environment. Originally we were on an old ward that wasn’t really great. Space was often shared for different tasks and we had to negotiate this very carefully. For instance we had a room that was dining room, lounge area, table tennis arena, and, occasionally the relaxation group. As you can imagine, getting it ready for the group was anything but relaxing!
Now we have a brand new ward with brilliant facilities – including a dedicated Activities Room.
I know service users and staff reading this will be on both older wards and shiny new ones. Well, I can tell you from experience that Star Wards has much to offer in both. It’s important to remember that small changes make the big difference. Often our team will dedicate meetings to exciting and brilliant ‘nickable practices’ (a wonderful Star Wards phrase) on the Star Wards website and you will often find me ‘researching’ ways to tinker with the activities we offer to our inpatients.
Here are my two favourite ‘Nickable Practices’:
- Pointless National Holidays found on the Wardipedia website as part of a print out on our ward noticeboard as a conversation starter, to theme a day, or to theme a therapeutic activity.
- Arts & Craft sessions that can be creative, even down to the equipment used. A brilliant art session we had recently used sticks from the unit’s grounds as paintbrushes. Taking a service user with you on a walk to find them counts as two therapeutic activities!
Yes, wards can be stressful and demanding – but also rewarding. I understand and live with the pressures but I also know small changes can make a big difference. Making these positive changes makes my job worth it.
And now I get to advertise what you do well! I hope you enjoy this newsletter and that you steal ideas from here, the website or anywhere to make you and your patients have a better time on your wards. And then I hope you tell me about it so I can tell the world.
(Notes: For art and crafts ideas we took inspiration from the Dorset Mental Health Forum’s Transitions Art Project, link! www.starwards.org.uk/dorset-mental-health-forums-transitions-art-project/)