SW Newsletter #32

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Feb 18th 2008

Margaret Stanhope Centre, Burton-on-Trent

Welcome to the Star Wards’ newsletter and a warm welcome to the new members of the Star Wards’ community. I hope the Margaret Stanhope Centre have recovered from my visit which included a display of snooker (or was it pool?) with a very patient patient who pretended it was fine to play as if it were table skittles. Paul Bowers is the very impressive (and tolerant!) ward manager whose breadth of achievements are particularly exciting.

For example, as you’ll know, it’s one thing to have good resources and run great activities, but another to motivate patients to participate, especially ‘spontaneously’. During the course of the half hour or so while we were chatting in the art room, 5 patients separately came in and most of them immediately settled into producing some art, whether painting, sewing or working with fabrics. The 5th would probably also have gone into Monet mode but I discovered she was Israeli and it was a rare chance to inflict my pathetic holiday Hebrew on someone. Another patient in the group told me she’d written to the local paper to say what a positive experience she’d had in hospital.

First things….

Did audit with trust audit team, referenced but wasn’t restricted to Essence of Care. Asked staff what skills they have that could be valuable to engaging with patients. Also an evaluation tool for service users which allowed us to capture not only their thoughts on what we had done, but also what they felt we could be doing instead/as well.


  • Have registered nurse additional to the rotad staff so freed up to run activities.
  • OT assistant is also extra to core establishment. Converted one of the HCSW’s posts into an OT Assistant’s post to include evenings and weekends.
  • Nigel is ward driver of ward car!! Takes patients home or to new accommodation as well as to local facilities.


  • Protected therapeutic time. Ward clerk stays in office 2.30 – 4 twice a week.
  • Arts for Health – 6 foot silk banner which was toured around Burton
  • 12 week art project with local artists producing photography, storytelling and textile pieces. Local historian ran an activity about Burton, liaising with the textile artist.
  • Art MA student is working with a service user on a project.
  • OT assistant runs media group at weekends – Sat morning schmooze re: what’s in the papers, doing local stuff. Runs relaxation and sleep preparation group.
  • A visiting psychologist runs a discussion group twice a week.
  • Have had one-off sessions from reflexologist, reiki therapist and ‘nail technician’ (for the ladies rather than DIY enthusiasts…)
  • Daily drop-in 9.30 – 10.
  • Groups running at same time as reviews are open so patients can come and go.
  • Poetry readings from a service user, healthy living groups, psycho-educational groups and some ‘just-for-the-fun-of-it’ groups


  • Do activities in the community, ideally non-MH related, so people have links and experience before go home.
  • Mind in town and run joint meeting on ward – A Plus (Activity Plus). Includes specialists who give information about their local services.
  • Park rangers and library staff visited.
  • Walks in woods and fields, with friendly chats with Viv (OT assistant) creatively called Walky Talky!
  • Can do IT taster sessions at local college
  • Visit local places of interest including museums, arboretums, and a lovely Buddhist centre which has a café and grounds.

Ward facilities

  • Aromatherapy room! Treatment bench, relaxing pictures and astutely the framed diploma of the nurse who is a qualified aromatherapist.
  • Relaxation room includes lava lamp and colour changing globe.
  • CAB have their own office on the ward as well as a debt specialist in town who the patients can go and meet.
  • Garden – like a mini, landscaped park, backing onto woods. Big pergola and the first kennel I’ve seen on a visit, with a plaque for George Junior above the door. The eponymous part-time resident is a whopping Great Dane, ‘Pets as Therapy’ registered dog. His human is an OT and George Junior enjoys taking patients for runs around the garden and nearby.

Creative range of funders.

  • local Toyota plant funded the pergola in garden
  • Estates Department gave the ward the £700 proceeds from selling some furniture which the ward is using for a cultural project. This was match-funded by the local council.
  • PCT funding for dancercise sessions,
  • Through local IT outreach scheme, a computer whiz came into the ward with 8 lap-tops + printer. As well as learning how to use computers, patients were able to design and print their own Xmas cards


  • Get info from PALS, Service Relations (complaints), adverse event forms (type and frequency), medication costs, use of seclusion, length of stay/readmission rate and referral and transfer to PICU. Strongly indicates that having a structured programme of activities has resulted in cost savings on relief staff, time taken to investigate complaints, cost of sickness absence etc and crucially benefits for service users in terms of increased satisfaction with the service and a move towards a quicker recovery.
  • Average length of stay has gone down a week in the last 2 years since Paul has been managing the unit. About 300 admissions a year.
  • Seclusion went down 60% in first year
  • Referral rate to PICU has gone down.
  • Compliments exceeded complaints with PALS. Each complaint involves lots of staff devoted to it. Evaluation tends to look at what’s been spent not what’s been saved. Can’t quantify ‘cost’ of patient going to press to complain.
  • Looking at how to change ward reviews to make less disruptive to ward programmes and less daunting for patients.

Thanks again to Paul, colleagues and patients for making me so welcome, despite lack of skill in essential ward/pub activity. For further information please contact Paul:[email protected]


All the best