Star Wards Newsletter – Autumn 2017

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Welcome to the Autumn 2017 edition of Imagine, the Star Wards Newsletter dedicated to our members!


In this packed Autumnal edition of Imagine you will find: Autumn Activities to try out on your ward, Full Monty News, Musical Therapy, A Pirate Invasion and anyone for a slice of Birthday Cake?!


A Few Words from Captain Clammy Patch Byrd (AKA Geoff)

This year I was asked to talk “Star Wards” at the Annual General Meeting of our great friend and supporter, NAViGO CIC. Navigo is not only an exemplar of Star Wards practice, they also gave us a stonking new Bright trustee in Ellie Walsh. How could we say no? And when Ellie suggested I dress as a pirate for the talk- well… what’s a boy to do. And yes, there are pictures! (too many pictures in my opinion!). So, this comes from Captain Clammy Patch Byrd. Ooh arr.

The AGM itself was amazing – human, heartfelt and hopeful – NAViGO is an organisation that really cares and gives its staff and patients every opportunity to be the best they can be. Read more here.

In this packed springy edition of Imagine you will find:

Autumn Activities:

> Musical Therapy!

> Autumny Pointless National Holidays!

Word From The Ward:

> Blue Nile House Full Monty!

> A Buzzing Monty Ward

> Be Yourself… Unless You Can Be A Unicorn

> Arrggh Me Hearties!

> Ruby Ruby Ruby!

> Fab Fundraising!

> Spooky!

> Advertising Activities

News from Star Wards HQ:

> A little help from our friends

> update

> Congratulations to some Star People

> Our Nina’s at it again

> We’re 11!

Ask Buddy

This newsletter celebrates other staff and patients being the best they can be, and we are so grateful for all the work showcased from your amazing wards. You really are fantastic, especially in these times of great challenge.

You may not know, but over the past year we have been approached and helped progressive staff and organisations be more like NAViGO. We even helped NAViGO get started with the excellent Safewards initiative. Although we have been doing what we call “direct work” for a while, we have now made it into a formal offer to organisations. This way, we can generate some funds to keep Star Wards alive and further develop resources like the brilliant CAMHeleon for CAMHS wards – so our offer is to do what we love (help you keep going) while helping fund the resources that keep you going!

One of the things that Ellie has also suggested is a special fundraising day for wards and for Star Wards. We love the idea as it’s a way to have fun, raise awareness and legitimately eat cake. (What’s fundraising without cake??) Any ideas from out there? Can we do some joint fundraising for Star Wards and projects on your ward?

So, would you like our help? Are you up for a bit of fundraising fun? Who wants cake? And always remember – to err is human, but to argh is seriously pirate.

Autumn Activities

Wards can be busy places to be, finding time for therapeutic activities can seem like a big task. No need to be daunted! Here are a few examples of activities that you can try, that are easy to start and fun to do!

Musical Therapy!

How about a calming singsong to while away an afternoon? Coral Ward in Crawley (Sussex Partnership NHS Trust) was recently treated to an afternoon in the company of their very own volunteer guitarist. He was there playing songs and encouraging everyone to sing along.

What about a bit of Autumn photography. Here are some lovely photos taken by our Twitter friend @jlpatient77. Believe it or not, these stunning images were taken with a smart phone!

Pointless National Holidays!

Here is a list of Pointless National Holidays that you could use; as a conversation starter, start a themed ward day or as part of your therapeutic on-ward activity sessions?

23rd November –

You’re Welcome Day

7th December –

Letter Writing Day

16th December –

National Chocolate Covered Anything Day

There are more examples of Pointless National Holidays at Have you created your own National day on your ward? Please share them with us! Get in touch with Sam– [email protected]

Word From The Wards

There are over 600 of you incredible Star Wards members across the globe! We’re always really chuffed to hear from you about the amazing activities and brilliant practice that happens each day on your ward. ‘Word From The Wards’ is the section of the newsletter dedicated to sharing just this.

Blue Nile House Full Monty!

Here are the star staff from Blue Nile House (Barnet, Enfield and Haringey NHS) who have achieved their Full Monty in style.  Geoff was very impressed with the staff’s dedication to their work. The first in their trust to win and Monty – and it’s been a few years since we give one to a London Ward. So huge thanks to our Star Wards Champion Omar Limbada- and the staff and patients on Blue Nile for their amazing work. Read the blog here.

A buzzing Monty ward

Are you working on introducing the 75 Star Wards Ideas? Thinking of submitting your completed Full Monty application? Wondering what happens on a typical Full Monty visit? Well, have a read of this lovely guest blog by Dolores O’ Doherty, Occupational Therapist at Hadrian Clinic, Newcastle Upon Tyne.

“The whole unit was buzzing on that morning … there was still a level of anxiety experienced by us all. We had assumed we were going to be assessed formally against all the benchmarks … We got rather excited when [Nic] produced the award as we were only expecting a certificate. ” Read more

‘Be Yourself Unless You Can Be A Unicorn’

We love this wisdom from the ladies of Medlock Ward in Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust. ‘Therapeutic Interior Design’ is a category on wardipedia that we are most fond of! The ladies have been super creative in making colourful and inspiring bunting which has positive words and phrases on it for their ward activity room. Thank you, Sarah, for sharing these with us on Facebook and Tina Millar for posting on Twitter!

Arrggh Me Hearties!

Captain Clammy Patch wasn’t the only buccaneer out in the last few months. ’Talk like a Pirate Day” is celebrated on the 19th of September every year. And, stow me, but a load of you shared brilliantly funny and creative photographs of scurvy ship mates all dressed up for the day. Here are a few pictures we received on Twitter – including the previous Monty awarded Meridian Ward in Cygnet Hospital Lewisham (thank you Rachel Kitten for the pics). You can see more at @starwards on Twitter.

Ruby Ruby Ruby!

Hopefully my reference to the Kaiser Chiefs went down well to accompany this lovely picture of Diann, pets as therapy volunteer, and her puppy friend Ruby. They visit the Glenbourne Unit in Plymouth (part of Livewell Southwest). We LOVE to see the Pets as Therapy pics on Twitter and encourage you all to have a look at Animal Magic, our resource for introducing more animals on wards.

Fab Fundraising!

Geoff ran into the wonderful Rebecca Finnegan, Ward Manager of Bevan Ward in Homerton, at the launch of City & Hackney Recovery College in East London. Rebecca was showcasing work from the talented lads on Bevan who make jewellery and bookmarks to raise funds for a multilingual library for the ward. Their stuff was exquisite and thy should be proud of their work. Good luck Rebecca and Bevan Ward – and good luck to Rachael Levett and Courtney Hart who run the Recovery college. They even talked Geoff into running a session in the future! While we are on East London, a HUGE shout out to the stunningly brilliant Jane Kelly, who has been a Star Wards friend since the beginning. Good things happen when Jane’s around!


What is it about Halloween that brings out the ghoul in all of us. As ever, we found wards revelling in gore and slime. Here are just some examples from NAViGO Healthcare CIC, Medlock Ward (again!) and Bidford Ward. As to Ward Managers Jordan Compton and Jo Bible from Cygnet Hospital Bury – that’s actually how they dress on a normal day.

Advertising Activities

We are always really pleased to have new followers on our Facebook and Twitter accounts. We really enjoy hearing from you all too. Sharing ideas, quotes and pictures from your wards! And an activity board filled with fun and therapeutic activities is always brilliant to see. Andrew (Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust) and Sarah (Greater Manchester Mental Health NHS Foundation Trust) recently posted pictures of activity boards from their older persons wards, both boards have been brilliantly adapted to shout about the activities happening on the wards.

If you would like to share any pictures, quotes or news about the fab activities happening on your ward – we would love to hear from you! You can tweet us; @starwards, find us on Facebook as have a group called (ingeniously) ‘Star Wards’ or email Sam; [email protected]

News From Star Wards HQ

A little help from our friends

Over the past few months we have changed how people can get engaged with Star Wards. Previously, you had to be attached to a specific ward to become a supporter – but we realised that this excluded too many people. To make sure anyone who was interested could sign up and join in, we created the individual joining form – and attracted some really ace people! So welcome. Paul Farmer, CEO of Mind, Joanna Cannon, bestselling author, Hülya Bilgin from Istanbul University, Tracy Bolton and Ross Conlan from Australia, David Lord, Carol-Ann Furminger, Susanna Hall, Ian Cummins, Katie Watson, Stephen Davison from the UK and (the future of mental health) students Charlene Newman and Sam Greenwood. A special welcome to Andrew Simpson, who has joined as an expert by experience from Dudley and is a top man! So why don’t YOU join us as an individual member? It’s free and it’s fun!

Inspiring Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) ward staff to show their “True Colours”

Inspiring Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) ward staff to show their “True Colours”

Unlike her big sister Star Wards, CAMHeleon doesn’t currently include an evaluation process. Although we offer a few general suggestions on how to use CAMHeleon, the site simply offers the crucial ingredients for therapeutic CAMHS inpatient care and we have left it up to ward staff to work out how best to put them into practice.

Happily, some CAMHs units are already showing interest in developing and piloting the implementation of CAMHeleon in a similar format to Star Wards. The creative and generous teams involved have given us permission to share the results work on this site so that other services can use their benchmarking and evaluation process. Take a look here and be sure to tell your CAMHS colleagues!

Congratulations to some Star People

Star Wards sends its HUGE congratulations to our friends Alan Worthington and Tony and Angie Russell for being recognised as amazing people at the Royal College of Psychiatry annual awards. All three have been great Star Wards friends and have made huge contributions to making things better for people in mental health services. Dear friends, we salute you!

Alan (in the picture) was a driving force behind the triangle of care, and Tony and Angie run “Positive Practice”, another great resource for services. Do check out their work, it really is worth it!

Our Nina’s at it again

Oh yes. Can’t keep a good woman down, and Nina Martynchyk is a very good woman. Nina has organised a conference on November the 11th about Boy’s Mental Health. We will tell you all about it in the next newsletter. (Nina is the one holding the pink bouquet in the pic above).

‘Mighty things from small beginnings grow’

It is you! Our busy and brilliant ward workers and the fantastically creative patients that have helped us get all the way to our 11th Birthday!

‘Mighty things from small beginnings grow’ is a recent blog by Paul Rooney that highlights how from small beginnings Star Wards has grown.

Ask Buddy

We love this feature, it allows our wonderful current (or potential!) members allows you to ask ‘Buddy’ a question! Buddy’s paws are ready to tap away and provide you with an answer to those questions you have about Star Wards on your ward. If we cannot find an answer for you we may be able to find you a fellow Star Wards community member (there’s over 600 of you!) that may well have an answer.

Buddy really enjoys receiving your questions! She has the waggy tail to prove it. Buddy recently received a question on our Facebook page from Sian Gallienne, who works on an older adult acute assessment ward based in Guernsey.




What would I need to do to add my ward to the Star Ward accreditation; we would really like to work towards accreditation?



We just love it when someone gets the fire in the belly to make things better on their ward. It’s what makes us get up in the morning (well, that and dog biscuits). But I have to start by saying, we don’t do “accreditation” in the formal sense, The Star Wards 75 ideas are simply that. Ideas. When my human, Marion, put them together, back before mobile phones or flush toilets, they were simply things we knew patients wanted to make the whole “admission” thing better for them. It was you amazing people who took them on board and made them sing. Once you had done that, we felt you deserved some recognition, and developed the Full Monty award. If you feel you have achieved the full 75 ideas (and if one of the ideas is not possible, replace it with something that is possible for you) – then you tell us what you have done and how you have done it and we are delighted to give it to the ward. That’s what Omar and Blue Nile ward above did, and look how good they are. But that’s not it for Blue Nile. I can’t see Omar being happy with that. They are already talking about what to do next – Safewards? Something different?

When using our 75 ideas, some wards start with a benchmark, some wards start with staff taking the ideas to the patients on their wards and some wards have the patients or their representative suggest they give it a go. And we don’t dictate what you do, how much you do, or where you end up, as long as people on the ward feel it’s worthwhile. What is important is that you enjoy the journey, have some fun and get to release all that talent the staff and patients have.

There are some amazing places that have started the 75 ideas and have not ended up with Full Monty’s, but have improved dramatically none the less. Our good friend, the brilliant Jo Spencer in Camden and Islington, transformed her service with amazing Star Wards ideas and many of her own, and never applied for a Monty. So, it’s not really about getting an award as much as making life better for everyone on your ward. We think you should get credit for all you do anyway. You should be credited for all your creative and brilliant effort, and for just turning up every day and trying to be the best you can be. If we can help you with that, Full Monty or not, that’ll do us nicely! Now, who mentioned dog biscuits?

Finally, if you missed it before, do have a read of this lovely guest blog by Dolores O’ Doherty. I think it really captures the essence of what the Full Monty is all about.


Love Buddy

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We’re all ears!

We’d love to hear from you and to share your stories!

Please do get in touch, you can even write to us with a guest blog of your experiences of mental health wards or Star Wards.

Thank you for being you!

We’re thrilled that you’re a Star Wards member and we want you to know how deeply impressed we are by all the creative, therapeutic work you do. We hope you’ve found ideas in this newsletter which you’ll want to introduce today!


Sam and the Star Wards team

Categories: Newsletters