Star Wards Summer 2019 Newsletter

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Welcome to our Amazing Members!

Welcome to the Summer edition of the Star Wards Newsletter dedicated to you our members! It’s packed full of news, lovely pics and ideas to help you make your ward even more fab!


In this packed Summer edition of Imagine you will find:

Summer Activities:

> Get into ward gardening

> Pointless National Holidays!

Word From The Ward:

> Seaside walk

> Boredom Busters and Brilliant Boards

> Youth Buddy – A New Dimension in Care Planning


News from Star Wards HQ:

> Indonesian Visit

> Well done to an Aussie Friend


> A quiet revolution of unique recovery journeys

Ask Buddy:

> What’s your advice on starting and running a Star Wards project?

“Summertime” and the living is easy, the song says. Except it isn’t, is it? For many of you out there in mental health services, life continues in its difficult path. Across the UK, patients and staff are attempting to deliver good services to an ever-increasing number of people in a context of continually diminishing resources. We should no longer be fooled by the political rhetoric of mental health being a priority when funding tells us the exact opposite. As my granny used to say, “don’t listen to what they say, watch what they do”.

It is in this context that we are continually amazed that many of you out there are fighting and struggling to make things better – and that you can continue to create environments that do just that. Recently we came across an excellent report from the King’s Fund’s Ben Collins. The report is called “Outcomes for mental health services: What really matters?”. It outlines in detail the tensions in services and is worth a read, but a chapter called “Recovering Hope” really caught our attention. It tells the story of Maria. Maria talks about her positive experience, of finding her voice after years of abuse. She says “I have seen people change so much you had to be there to believe it. I have changed beyond my own belief.”

In this world of rhetoric and metrics and data, we at Star Wards and CAMHeleon will continue to tell the stories and showcase the changes that inspire you to create great environments. Places like the one Maria was part of. So please continue to tell us what you are up to, what floats your boat, what makes it all worthwhile. You can tell us on twitter, Facebook email, snail male or carrier Pigeon. If you do, we promise to tell the world. So welcome to the summer edition. and just some of the amazing things going on in your services.  

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Summer Activities

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With this selection of ideas, your ward will be a hive of sunny activity. We know that at times wards can be busy places to be and finding space 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!


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The Wardipedia section of Star Wards is full of ideas and suggestions, most of them from ward staff and patients. There’s some new stuff, some stuff you’ll already know but hopefully presented in a refreshing way. The snippets will, we hope, give inspiration when preparing ward activities when the weather is anything but decisive!


In this Summer newsletter we focus on gardening ideas. Gardening is amazing –  offering a unique combination of physical, emotional, spiritual and sensory pleasures. Even if your ward garden is paved – no problem! Fabulous plants and impressive vegetables can be grown in containers, raised beds, or even old tires. So have a look at the bit outside the ward and think about what it could offer with just a little TLC. Here are some ideas from other wards-

  • The hospital has a weekly gardening group where patients are responsible for the poly-tunnel and dedicated garden space.
  • A gardening group started on the Unit which is open to all and the plan is to sell plants at the Hospital summer fete to raise money for the unit. 
  • One ward managed to get a major retailer to donate garden furniture through a scheme, by pointing out that this would enable patients to enjoy the visiting rabbits, partridges and birds.
  • Even growing a potato head with hair made of cress is a creative way of growing on a small scale and is an activity a patient can take home with them.
  • A relaxing alternative space for activities in addition to gardening – anything from painting to therapeutic groups if your ward is blessed with a nice big garden, allowing for patient privacy.
  • Containers (including creatively recycled equipment) and grow-bags offer lots of scope where it’s not possible to plant in the ground.
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And over the last few months the green fingered out there have been taking to social media to tell us all about their achievements.

Here are some tweets from

  • Harbour Ward, Harbour Ward, St Anne’s Hospital, Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust
  • Occupational Therapy Team at Langley Green Hospital in Sussex Partnership NHS Trust.
  • Abbey Ward, also in in Sussex Partnership NHS Trust.

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?


11  Cheer up the Lonely Day

15  National Ice Cream Day

23  National Hot Dog Day


15  Relaxation Day

18  Bad Poetry Day

29  More Herbs, Less Salt Day



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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 us– [email protected]

Word From The Wards

The team here at Star Wards are always really chuffed to hear from members about the amazing activities that happen every day on your wards. ‘Word From The Wards’ is the section of the newsletter dedicated to sharing your wards news.


Shoreditch Ward, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust


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“The idea of recovery has been perceived by many as an adult concept,” writes Joanna Uchwat (Ash ward, Woodland House, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust) in this new blog about the CAMHs recovery booklet they’ve produced after being inspired by Bright’s ‘Ward Buddy‘. “Although the amount of evidence supporting young people and families’ involvement in health and social care service development and assessment is increasing. The booklet’s “easy to adjust” format also focuses on risk management and encourages the move from oppressive practice to a co-produced safety plan where the young person and their family form an integral part of the support system in contingency planning which in turn empowers the young person, their family, and increases resilience.”

Read the blog

More on CAMHs and recovery below!


Display boards on mental health wards are a tried and trusted feature. They’re a great way to keep everyone up-to-date with what’s happening in terms of occupation and therapy to give focus and alleviate boredom. Check out these activity display boards we’ve spotted on our travels.

Chine Ward St Anne’s Hospital – Dorset HealthCare University NHS Foundation Trust

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Cragside - Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
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Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
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Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
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Woodhorn Ward, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
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Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
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Bede Ward, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust
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Woodland House, South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust
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Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

Have fab activities been happening on your ward? We’re sure they have. If you would like to shout about them feel free to share any pictures, quotes or news with us. – We would love to hear from you! You can tweet us; @starwards, find us on Facebook; ‘Star Wards’, or Email us– [email protected]



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Last year saw the Grimsby Two (Ellie and sister Gwen-O) swim through freezing water and the East London Due (Rachel and Pennine) cycle through the sweltering heat of France. These were fantastic efforts, but a trio of NAViGO staff decided to come up with an even bigger stunt. Yes folks, Amy Togu, Teana Mamao and Daniel Dean literally jumped out of an airplane for us! Here is an amazing pic of one of the Tremendous Three in action. Their magnificent efforts raised over a thousand pounds, which was then doubled by the generous NAViGO Healthcare organisation. Our deep and humble thanks to them and NAViGO for what was the most amazing effort. 

And we are in planning further fundraising efforts later in the year! There is a rumour that Talk Like a Pirate Day (19th of September) will see real Pirates on the streets of London and our great friend and supporter Dave Chawner is planning a benefit comedy evening in support of us. Watch this space – and if you would like to fundraise for us, don’t be shy! You don’t have to swim icy waters, cycle through desert conditions or even jump from airplanes. All ideas welcome!

News From Star Wards HQ


In May we assisted Kingston University and The St George’s Hospital Medical School (University of London) host some incredible people from Ministry of Health of the Republic of Indonesia. Yes – Indonesia! They wanted to come to the UK to learn about Safewards and we spent a wonderful week with them telling them all about the remarkable things you do. Very luckily, we got to do two trips to see wards who had gone the extra mile. So thank you to Greater Manchester NHS Foundation Trust and the Talk 1st programme in Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust. Our thanks to Jo Hancock and the Safewards team in Manchester, Rod Bowles, Ron Weddle and all the fab Positive and Safe Team. Biggest thanks to staff and patients at Park House and the Moorside Unit in Manchester and the Barton Centre in Sunderland. You were all amazing! 

The Indoensian staff became our friends over the week. Even with the language difficulties you could tell these were not just a compassionate group, but super talented. So please say hello to Mrs Santi YulianI, Mrs Soimah, Dr Sri Idaiani, Mr Abdul Jalil, Mrs Atik Puji Rahayu pictured with Star Wards and Talk 1st stars Paul Sams and Rod Bowles at the amazing Barton Centre in Sunderland. Many of the Barton Centre wards are worthy recipients of Full Monty’s!

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The leader of the Indonesian pack, Dr irmansyah, was away visiting his daughter when the picture was taken – but was their top psychiatrist and just the most lovely man. You might spot him tweeting in this pic with the fab Manchester crew.

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I think they will do very well and they are ALL welcome to the Star Wards (and Safewards) Families. 

And we learnt TONS as well – here is a little pic from Manchester of a great interventions about being kind to each other. Love it!

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And finally – just to show how worthwhile it is to share the good stuff, here is Mr Jalil sharing good practice with his colleagues back in Indonesia.

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Screenshot 2019 07 08 at 10.38.12One of our greatest pleasures is telling you about positive people doing positive things. It’s even nicer if someone else spots them. Earlier in the year one of our great supporters in Australia, the marvellous Chris Patterson, received the accolade of Nurse of the Year at the recent Australian Healthcare Excellence Awards. Chris and others promoted Star Wards for years in St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney and did so brilliantly. Since his move to be a lecturer at the University of Wollongong, he continues to do amazing stuff. It was no surprise to us that he was given the award for the magnificent Recovery Camp initiative. These camps are a great idea as they take both mental health students and service users (the preferred name in Australia is Consumers) for long stays in the outback to forge better relationships and break down stigma. Isn’t that just a fantastic idea! So, in our best Australian, can we just say “Chris, you’re a bloody ripper mate!”

Read more


Hi Star Wards family, Nic Higham here with a round up of all things CAMHeleon – our resource for CAMHs wards. showcases the excellence happening moment-to-moment in Child and Adolescence Mental Health Units (CAMHS). The site offers many positive experiences for young people while in hospital as well as how to take advantage of these and how ward staff can help. Our extensive research into the everyday wellbeing of young people let to our developing the mnemonic COLOURFUL to organise the essential themes. The site offers a compendium of inpatient therapeutic practice ideas and resources which we’ve gathered together and presented in an upbeat and accessible way to save staff time searching the web for the good stuff.

A Quiet Revolution of Unique Recovery Journeys 

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A mural by young people at Ferndene Unit, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

CAMHeleon is all about everyone expressing their true colours – their uniqueness and creativity. It’s always fab to see how each CAMHs ward is putting their own character into their CAMHeleon projects and their hard work in tailoring care for each young person. 

When we were writing CAMHeleon, we came across a deeply powerful quote by Professor Sami Timimi, a consultant in CAMHS psychiatry at Lincolnshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Professor Timimi, who grew up primarily in Iraq until the age of 14, then due to political difficulties moved to England, said: 

“There is a quiet revolution taking place in the delivery of mental health care. For too long, services have been operating using approaches that match treatment to diagnosis rather than tailoring treatment to each patient’s and families’ unique circumstances and choice.”

Professor Timimi is absolutely right. Recovery, like human development, is deeply personal; while there are common themes and milestones, there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’. Recovery is supported, not by trying to impose techniques and models on young people, but by aligning with where they are at present, helping them unearth their inherent skills and intuition, and deeply honouring their unique journey of building a meaningful, valued and satisfying life. Goals can be moulded by staff, but only from the raw material provided by the young person. This involves meeting the young person exactly where they are, in their own world, and sensitively journeying with them towards their unique recovery. 

Recovery is about growing, finding hope. It’s about young people’s whole lives and is possible for everyone. Although being on the ward is tough, it can provide a secure base that nurtures young people to be mindful of these triggers, think about pathways, develop new relationships, learn new, healthier patterns of behaviour, and check out their internal working models (how they see themselves and the world) and develop more positive, helpful ones. A ward stay can be a profound opportunity to begin to release the past and embrace the future. 

It can be difficult to engage with young people to begin with, but presenting them with a selection of choices encourages them to take responsibility and influence their care. Young people who grow in responsibility also grow in self-worth. Each young person’s recovery journey is unique and deeply personal, and freedom is very, very important to young people.  

Mindfulness shows respect for the uniqueness of a young person’s mind, and their own emerging recovery pathway. This doesn’t mean staff have to like or agree with everything they see or hear, but if they accept the young person for who they are in the present moment, and embrace them in an attentive way, their connection with the young person will be more secure and they’ll be more likely to have a positive influence in their recovery.

While an inpatient admission can play a key part in a young person’s recovery, wards must have an outward-looking treatment ethos and be continually mindful that a stay on a ward is a means to an end. Young people moving forward and reintegrating back into their home community is the main focus of inpatient care, and helping to keep their external connections alive plays a huge part in this. Staff can remind the young person about this throughout their admission, and highlight and review the accumulating recovery steps they’ve taken while being on the ward.

Achievements and expectations in a CAMHS setting may not be measurable in terms of the conventional standards. Young people should never be made to feel ashamed if they don’t perform as well as their peers, or excessive pride at the expense of or in comparison with others, if they perform better. Actually, it shouldn’t be about performance at all. Both education and nursing staff can find a good balance between the young person’s right to education, and what they can take on board while feeling unwell. Educational activity plays an extra role on a CAMHS ward, as well as its usual one, because it acts as a therapy in its own right and plays a massive part in recovery.

Speaking of education, the theme of International Youth Day 2019 is “Transforming education”. What are you doing on 12th August to celebrate? Let us know, we’d love to share your ideas and inspiration!


Read more about Unique Recovery Journeys (CAMHeleon)

Read more about Learn and Growth (CAMHeleon)

Read more about CAMHeleon


Finally, here’s some recovery-themed inspiration from Ancora House, Cheshire and Wirral Partnership NHS Foundation Trust…

Do You Want us to Help You Get Your CAMHeleon or Star Wards Project Started?

We’re offering NHS and private services the opportunity to book our direct support, including training days, workshops, project facilitation and coaching. We can help you wherever you are in your service improvement journey (click here for more information). We’ll even give you some free CAMHeleon badges and other goodies. We offer reasonable rates and a bespoke service which aims to enhance the experience of patients, carers/family members and staff. We believe our offer will assist with some of the major challenges services face – to improve standards of safe care and to have less incidents of harm to staff and patients – leading to less staff absence, less complaints, reduced cost of investigation and legal action and reduced reputational damage. It will also help Bright to continue and thrive into the future. Contact [email protected]

To find out more about CAMHeleon head off to or contact us.

Ask Buddy


Great question! While we could give you a good answer, we thought it only fitting to ask the community of Full Monty achievers as they have worked hard to translate and embody the 75 Ideas. You will also find some tips here.

Over to the experts….


“Embrace the changes. All of the changes we have made here on Westleigh have been positive. This is in regard to the patient experience, staff motivation and carers’/visitors’ experiences whilst their loved one is an inpatient.”

Westleigh ward, North West Boroughs Healthcare

“Be creative in the interpretation of the 75 ideas and get patient feedback on how to implement them.”

Beech Unit, Devon Partnership NHS Trust

“Involve all patients and staff of different levels in the planning and implementing of the projects!”

Ward 31a, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

“It’s easier than you think, you are already doing it. It gives you the opportunity to celebrate what you are doing.”

Sunniside Unit, Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust

“It is achievable and it helps identify positives and actions already in place.”

Cragside Court, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

“Be inventive when thinking about the process and be sure to do it your way- each service is unique.”

Ingram ward, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

“Be creative in making opportunities, don’t become fixated on the set ideas as this can be amended to fit your service.”

Mitford ward, Northumberland Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

“Ensure there is an MDT approach to the process and ensuring management staff are on board to help drive the innovations set up.”

Castleside. Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust

“It is extremely important to approach it as a team. Having a supportive team reflects the use of good communication, positive relationships and a shared vision amongst the MDT and ward generally. It is also vital to include service users in all stages of the process. It enhances staff understanding about what’s working and what isn’t working and allows staff to build a realistic picture about the services they offer.”

Hansa Ward, Cygnet Beckton

“Think flexibly about what you already provide, as there is a lot of good practice going on that can be captured by Star Wards, in addition to implementing other ideas. Have regular (i.e. monthly) meetings with staff (OTs, Act Co’s, Ward Managers, ward staff and Service Managers) to share ideas, develop action points and monitor progress. It is important that it is a team approach, to ensure longevity and truly embedding it into the team.”

Hadrian Unit & Rowanwood PICU, Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust

“We believe it is really important to listen to the experiences of the service user, to get an idea of what they want to improve. At times, this can be the simplest thing and be so easy to implement. Particularly within a Medium Secure environment, it can, at times to difficult to implement all the ideas that they generate. However, through discussion and further exploration, they often have alternative suggestions.  Many of the ideas can be achieved if you think outside the box.”

Madison and Columbus, Cygnet Healthcare

“It is important to work as a team and to ensure that the team buy into the idea of achieving the Star Wards Full Monty Award. The team means staff and service users.  It is exciting to improve the service delivered to service users. The knock-on effect is that work is more enjoyable and rewarding.  It is an opportunity to learn and to develop new skills and knowledge.  It is important to choose a benchmarking tool that works for you and to be methodical and organised with regards to applying this tool.”

Bewick Ward, Cygnet Healthcare

“Involve the patients in the processes and encourage them to take responsibility (with staff support) to implement the changes they want to make.”

Spring Hill House, St Andrew’s Healthcare, Northampton

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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!


the Star Wards team

Categories: Newsletters