SW Newsletter #41

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August 26th 2008

Bumper summer edition!!!

Welcome to the Star Wards’ newsletter and a warm and sunny (eg Caribbean) welcome to the new members of the Star Wards’ community. Because we love you, we’re giving you a FREE ‘summer’ bonus feature. It’s yet another Star Wards’ classic, from the Club Med of inpatient care, Highcroft Hospital in Birmingham. Here’s how they got round patients who can’t leave the metropolitan hospital nevertheless getting to enjoy the beach experience. Way to go, Highcroft!

Club Endeavour, Highcroft Hospital, summer 2008

Patrick introduced Club Endeavour to me in an email in July:

We are about to embark on our most ambitious project. Jil and I were thinking of organising a holiday for some of our longer stay customers. However, some of our patients on the Endeavour units are either too poorly to leave or are too restricted by their section. So, ever determined not to be defeated, we are bringing the holiday experience to them.

For the week of 11th August we are transforming the place into a holiday resort. We are decking it out and creating a beach (yes sand!) for beach volleyball and lounging. We are having t- shirts printed (Club Endeavours) and baseball caps for all staff, users and carers. We are even having a beach hut and holiday gift shop (the folks are making postcards and key rings.) We have a full week of holiday games and events planned.

See what you inspired us to do!!!

There was only a month to go and while I’m wowed each time I experience or see the latest Highcroft extravaganza, with such a short lead-time, I imagined something fun and uncomplicated. Silly me! Here’s Patrick’s email account of the fun.

Our Club Endeavour, Holiday at Home Week has gone really well. Weather turned on us a bit but we have still had a lot of fun and the

food has been great (buffet breakfast with croissants, ham, cheeses,

cereals etc) and a different theme for lunch each day. Italian,

Afro-Caribbean (a lovely mutton curry and spicy chicken), a beach picnic and a barbecue yesterday. Today is traditional fish and chips.

It was lovely to escape normal business – and almost literally all staff (including myself and Jil) were able to just hang out and have fun with the customers and staff, all day long in our beach hut or on the ‘beach’ – and some acted as holiday reps (resplendent in Club Endeavour T shirts.) Lots of games and competitions – prize giving is at our Luau party this evening. It was wonderful – tiring, but wonderful.

Quite a lot of stuff was made by our users – as we have mentioned before I think, we use our ‘social calendar’ (which the customers decide on) to drive our craft and art activity groups. They made key rings, t shirts, coasters , placements and other bits and bobs for our gift shop (which sold out) Some of the backdrops we got from Partyrama (online) – they are vinyl and you just pin them up and quickly transform places. Our PFI partners provided the beach – the rest was shopping trips with the folks to get various bits and bobs. Plus we made a beach hut as you see to provide drinks, snacks, towels, t shirts and (rather optimistically as it turned out) to provide sunblock.

Have attached a few snaps so you can see some of the fun we have had

(obviously no service users in these.) The chap in the Punch and Judy booth is Mark Hillier – our head of Patient and Public involvement. The Punch and Judy show (voiced by me!!!) poking gentle fun at ourselves , had them rolling in the aisles.

At our Trust Acute Care Forum yesterday, we agreed to look at establishing a plan for this across all our key sites next year.

Next is our Harvest Festival/Autumn Celebration in October – which we are opening up to the local community and then (can you believe it) we will be revving up for this year’s Christmas Cup!!

Sandalwood Ward, Penn Hospital, Wolverhampton

Woo. Club Endeavour is a hard act to follow but Sandalwood Ward is a dazzlingly dynamic and therapeutic place. Planning for a visit to one ward taking four hours seems like a reasonable amount of time. But Sarah Tomlinson, the ward manger of Penn ICU and Sam Dewis (lead OT for a team of 12!) were continuing to tell me about even more fabulous team practice all the way to dropping me off for my return train. As you’ll see, the ward is an amazing generator and implementer of great ideas for enhancing patient care.

The very attractive light and comfy ward environment has been improved with new décor and carpeting, trendy pics, furniture. Bean bags work well, helping nurture an open informality between nurses and patients. They don’t have a seclusion room, which is a rare but for me joyous discover in a PICU. Further improvements being developed include an ADL kitchen and therapy space and may involve boldly getting rid of the nursing office and replacing it with an open-plan nursing station. There are separate conservatories for men and for women patients. They are blessed with beautiful, extensive, wrap-around grounds, including steep banks which are difficult to mow, so they’re considering getting sheep!

ICU staff have been very responsive to change.  The ward has one consultant + a staff grade doctor comes in daily. They are planning to introduce psychologists to their in-patient services. OTs do CBT work eg anxiety management and “make it real”, which they apply to real-life situations. Link nurses specialise in issues like self-harm, ethnicity and diversity, women’s groups, and the lesbian and gay (and the BT bit of LGBT) communities, linking up with community services and specialists. They’ve got the inspired idea of a noticeboard so link nurses can take turns to have a fortnight’s display on that issue. When it’s protected engagement time, staff not only lock the office door but turn out the light, to be green and also explicit that the room’s not in operation for this period.

They now have much more flexible budget headings eg a £3k patient social fund, enabling more creativity in how to spend the budget. The ward gym instructor also works with OT dept. New Ways of Working indeed! Sarah and Sam are very proud of their super-cool 3 spin bikes, and the 9 staff who are trained in ‘vibe indoor cycling’. The bikes have been very carefully chosen to cope with heavy patients, and niftily have wheels to allow for flexibility with the gym layout and use. They are lucky to have a staff nurse who is an experienced and qualified dance teacher – salsa, street, classical,..

There’s a timetable of physical activity once a day in the gorgeous, currently sheepless hospital grounds. This is made easier by doctors agreeing that it isn’t necessary to have s-17 leave for this unless the patient is under Ministry of Justice restrictions. A staff nurse clears patients for physical activity, which is authorised at specific levels of activity by the doctor as part of the admission process. One inspired way that they’ve made use of the wonderful outdoor space is by managing to get Wolves FC to come and run football activities, bringing signed footballs and, even more popularly, the 2 team mascots, Wolfy and Wendy.

I painted on a ward wall for the first time. Art and creative activities are run by an ex-service user, who became a volunteer and is now on the staff. She and a colleague were progressing the mural and bravely asked if I’d like to contribute. Actually, it wasn’t that brave as they’ve astutely created a detailed outline of the sporting figures, so even a klutz like me can splash a bit of paint more or less between the guidelines.

There’s a good-sized shared therapy unit, with art and pottery room, wood work, and music activities include drumming which it was good to hear is very popular with the older ladies! Go girls! Physio is provided both for inpatients and outpatients, mainly older patients. The highly skilled physio Jill Northway is a qualified acupuncturist but it was hearing about her ‘sleep therapy’ which particularly fascinated me. I didn’t follow the science of it at all; something about realigning alpha waves. But I feel that sleep quality (or the rather clinical and judgmental ‘sleep hygiene’) is an under-developed area of practice on many wards.

Sam is very involved in further developing the quality of support given to patients who self-harm. She explained the importance of doctors supporting a more liberal ‘safer self-harming’ approach in order for the ward to be able to implement this. They’re wisely linking with South Staffs and Shropshire, whose nurses have (not uncontroversially….) pioneered this proactive harm minimisation approach on wards. A dynamic local multi-disciplinary group, has produced resources to support this work and each ward has a self-harm resource file with lots of information including in different languages. There’s a similar resource for sexual abuse.

Each ward has a lap-top and broadband, and the hospital has wi-fi, which is ideally flexible, and by definition wire-free. In addition to all the usual stuff done by patients on the Internet, staff also help with downloading music to their MP3 players.


A benefits’ clerk comes in 3 days a week, which is fantastic to hear. They help with sick notes, DLA applications etc. Mental health empowerment worker from the voluntary sector council comes in weekly, to talk with patients about their experiences, complaints etc. Employment pathways officers also come to the hospital and it’s the first time I’ve heard of the excellent practice of staff from the housing department visiting weekly.

The pharmacy hope to be able to offer drop-in sessions, ideally after the ward round because of potential changes in medication etc).

A neat embellishment of a special evening, a patient-prepared curry night was a patient making a poster advertising this.

You can imagine what a boost I got hearing from Sam about what a boost they feel Star Wards has given staff and patients. “It’s really has given the ward a focus. Staff are more motivated. There’s much more engagement time. It’s really boosted morale, giving us a direction, and permission to engage in activity rather than monitoring or recording, stuff that we’d talked about and tried a bit. We could take it to our managers and provide benchmarking evidence. We’re now asking staff what a difference it has made, and I’ve made contact with other OTs through Star Wards.”

For further details please contact:

[email protected]

[email protected]


And yet another reminder that all the info you need to be well grooved-up for the Star Wards Festival, is at www.starwardsfestival.org.uk


All the best