21 Oct

Star Wards


Loads of practical ideas for improving the daily experiences and treatment outcomes of mental health inpatients


The Star Wards publications (download links below) are packed full of inspirational therapeutic practice examples that can be easily introduced and adapted.  Many features of ward life are covered, including ideas for:


  • Recreation and conversationSW-featmain
  • Physical health and activity
  • Visitors
  • Care planning
  • Talking therapies and self-management
  • Ward community
  • Patient responsibility



Star Wards 1

Star Wards 2



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“Our members use and adapt our resources to stimulate and structure therapeutic and enjoyable daily programmes for inpatients in the full range of wards including elderly, rehab, learning disability and secure.

Sometimes it’s huge things, like transforming a ward with low morale and high aggression into one where significantly increased safety is both a result and illustration of the new culture of constructive patient engagement and staff satisfaction. Or it may be just a brief, warm exchange between a patient and nurse, capturing the mutual respect and trust which characterises so much inpatient care.”

– Marion Janner, Star Wards founder and CEO






At a glance – click here to view all 75 Star Wards ideas








What’s Inside?


Star Wards 1

Contents include:

  • In-patients’ current experience of how their days are spent
  • Psychology on the wards
  • The evidence base for the Star Wards’ ideas
  • Making Mental Health Wards Great Places to Work – Henry Stewart
  • Improving Patient-Centred Care: 10 Customer Service Tips – Phil Dourado
  • Star Wards’ 75 ideas
  • Achieving change


Star Wards 2

Contents include:

  • Creating a Star Ward
  • 75 ideas: at a glance guide
  • Features on:
    • Mutual support
    • Creating therapeutic and safe environments
    • Self-medication
    • Arts for health
  • Best practice in:
    • Recreation and conversation
    • Physical health, activity and well-being
    • Visitors, volunteers and carers. (And pets)
    • Care planning
    • Talking therapies and self-management
    • Ward community
    • Patient responsibility
  • Activities’ list



Star Wards 1

Star Wards 2



Click here to download the Action Points Chart – use this to write your own versions of the ideas and to note action points.


Click here to read about how to get patients involved in your Star Wards project.




What Are People Saying?


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“Patients feel more empowered, this creates more motivation, improved relationships between staff and patients, staff and staff, less division, more optimistic attitude, improved mental health for patients and some discharges which I believe have happened sooner.”

– Star Wards member




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“Star Wards, like most really good ideas, is essentially simple. The initiative is based on service user insight that recognises, taps into and spreads the wealth of innovative practice that occurs in so many local acute mental health services… ‘small things make a big difference’. Things like being listened to, feeling a part of things, having something meaningful to do. Star Wards emphasises the positive, conveying messages of engagement inclusion, involvement, fun and success…

Key to the enthusiastic uptake of Star Wards is that it is owned by the staff and service users on the wards. Star Wards is an acknowledgement that staff working on acute mental health wards are allies of positive change who deserve better recognition of their efforts and achievements…”

– Paul Rooney, Joint National Lead CSIP/NIMHE Acute Care Programme




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Star Wards is simple, practical and upbeat. It’s different, as it’s inspiring, rather than instructional. It’s unique, as ward staff have a strong sense of ownership of the Star Wards project, resulting in very impressive and imaginative new therapeutic opportunities for patients. There is also evidence of a range of staff revealing and extending their skills and experiences and talents.

– Ivan Lewis MP


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