SW Newsletter #25

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Nov 12th 2007

Welcome to the latest newsletter and a warm welcome to the new members of the Star Wards’ community. I’ve been lucky to have visited a series of excellent services and appreciate the time that Suzanne Smith and Chris Dzikiti at Bevan Ward, City and Hackney Centre for Mental Health, Michelle Parker and colleagues at The Spinney in Manchester and Kamla Sumbhoolaul and Alpha Sankoh at  Springfield Hospital, south London generously spent with me. It’s great to be able to share their ideas and experiences. Thanks also to Sue Rollinson, Ward Manager from Hull, for ringing me and giving me details about the links they have with their local women’s centre. Please do remember that you can let me know about your developments by email, phone, text, popping round to see me as well as by inviting me to visit!


The hospital has carefully built relationships with the women’s centre across the road. Patients can enjoy reflexology and aromatherapy there, as well as supportive contact with other women. They’ve introduced a simple solution to the friction caused by loud music at night – buying 18 radio cassette/CD players, with headphones. Impressively, they’ve still got all 18 a year into the scheme. (Equipment has the name of unit and number on them, which probably helps with retaining them.) Patients sign a simple contract and have to return the equipment if they breach the agreement.

Bevan Ward, City and Hackney Centre for Mental Health

Weekly newsletter put together in group room – Bevan Truth. Includes poems, raps, articles, thoughts, quotes, word search, quizzes. Newsletter ethos – content needs to reflect creativity and positivity so nothing judgmental or negative or hostile. If it isn’t suitable for newsletter, they can keep it themselves and come back to it next week. Usually by then their MH has improved and they can recognise the piece isn’t suitable for newsletter. Patients put articles on computer.

7 day programme of activities including music appreciation, exercise, art therapy, healthy living, smoothies and men’s group, percussion, gym. I particularly like the idea of weekly community meetings with guest speakers. This is a classic example of an opportunity that people might not get when they are back home and provides endless possibilities for inviting interesting people to talk.

The Spinney

This is a medium secure unit, run by the independent providers Partnerships in Care. MSU. There are 5 wards, all male, including one for young men 18 – 25 and one for people with personality disorders. Each ward has MDT – social worker, RMO, clinical psychologist, OT. Have lots of sports technical instructors.

Wonderful facilities, starting with fabulous landscaped grounds. It was astonishing to come onto the site and it look like a 70s housing estate rather than a custodial institution. They’ve got a sports hall, outdoor football pitch, fitness suite – and very popular swimming pool. Social activities room has large movie screen and library with novels (shelved alphabetically by author!!), lots of lovely travel, wildlife and other photo books, health etc. Also easy read books. Have bands come and play and comedians!! Also visiting birds of prey – very popular. There’s a shop where patients work. Lots of community leave.

Seacole and Jupiter Wards, Springfield Hospital

Kamla, the service manager, wants wards to be “home from home” and said that “Nurses give that little bit extra.”

  • Breakfast meeting to plan day. Patients chair and take notes. Each patient in turn is asked if they have issues to discuss. Then reads activity choices for day. Protected time during meeting.
  • Weekly community meeting. Patients bake nice things for it – such a simple and brilliant idea.
  • Kitchen open 24/7.
  • Computer room – only complaints are about slowness of broadband and desire for 2nd PC! Some patients use internet to research their medication. Booking system for PC, sorted out at breakfast meeting.
  • Saturday and Sunday – baking + cook one meal. Patients have £50 for shopping.
  • Friday night – 7 – 9 video evening. Snacks, widescreen TV. Playstation used by men and women.
  • Wimbledon Golf tournament raised £10k for the two wards, thanks to an admin worker who is a member. Used for activities.
  • Seacole and Jupiter have their own activities co-ordinators and a senior OT across the 2 wards. There’s dance movement therapy, art therapy. Weekly sports sessions with trust physio. Exercise bike and rowing machine. Table tennis outside on special concrete table tennis table. Patients have open access to secure garden.
  • Chaplain visits. Muslim patients can go to mosque down the road. Quiet room for prayer with bible and Koran.
  • Massage therapy.
  • Rethink Advocacy.
  • Moving On group.
  • Music appreciation – people bring their own music.
  • Pharmacist visits wards daily + attends ward rounds. Kamla produced information about medication for psychosis and put it on noticeboard.

As always, a brilliant range of opportunities for patients, with some of the most inspired ones costing little or nothing. However, there’s no doubt about the financial benefits that an independent provider has, and also how wonderful it is to have some additional income from fund-raising. You’ll probably have picked up that it was a local golf club that donated the very generous £10,000 to Springfield Hospital and that, interestingly, it was a member of the administrative rather than clinical team who resourcefully persuaded her club to choose a psychiatric hospital to support. Amazing. Shows that anything’s possible!


All the best