SW Newsletter #44

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October 24th 2008Welcome to the Star Wards’ newsletter and a warm welcome to the new members of the Star Wards’ community. This week is the part of what I’m sure will become the legendary Kent Trilogy. Your trust can also be featured as a Star wards’ trilogy. All you have to do is spend months planning, liaising with colleagues, negotiating dog accommodation locally, liaising with me, and then at least 2 days showing me your amazing services. AND, the most important thing is for us to go to lunch somewhere with a name as zany as the Dog and Duck at Plucks Gutter, where we can have a dish with as entertaining a name as Lumpy Bumpy.

(For the sake of my fabulous Kent colleagues’ reputation, and mine, the online propaganda for Lumpy Bumpy states that it’s A new and original concept in taste and structure. Well! And itcomprises an extensive spectrum of flavours, colours, structures, shapes and sizes. In short, anyone working with or wanting to work with coated ingredients should see Lumpy Bumpy®.So all of you with aspirations of working with coated ingredients now know where to turn. And who to invite.

Anyway, better get on with some more overtly mental health stuff. I’m incredibly grateful to Janet Hatch and Katherine Lees for making my 2 day visit possible. It completely blew my mind, with so much exceptionally patient-focused, deeply creative practice, exemplified by Ramsey ward for elderly people. But you’ll have to wait til episode 2 to find out about Ramsey. This first episode covers impressive practices across wards, at the various sites Katherine (OT and temporary driver and tour guide) took me to.

Arundel Unit, William Harvey Hospital, Ashford, Kent

We arrived in style with, at the hospital’s helipad. Well, technically in Katherine’s car just next to the helipad. Not quite as exotic but a fantastic idea, PALS is right there in reception.

OT takes place on wards in the mornings, with groups in the OT department in the afternoon. It was fab to hear that they moved to this arrangement having spoken at Star Wards’ momentum meeting last year to colleagues in another Trust operating this.

All wards in Kent have a Start of the Day group, a mini-community meeting + bulletin board about what groups patients would like that day and what fixed groups are happening, eg talking therapies, gardening, walking. Talking therapies are inspired by

Irving Yallom’s style of inpatient psychodynamic therapy – very adaptive, here and now, focusing on altruism and patients helping each other. It was interesting to learn that they have an Understanding Psychosis group, whose name reflects that it covers more than hearing voices. Rethink go to each ward’s Start the Day meeting once a week and then see individual patients who want their advice or support.

There’s a segmented garden area in the central area surrounded by the wards, with the portion attached to the older people’s ward including raised flower beds. OTs have made links with Ashford community allotment project and patients should be able to take part in the future.

I was thrilled to see that the hospital has adapted Star Wards’ Personal Recovery File concept (see p.47 of Star Wards 1.) Improvements to the Personal Recovery File include having a place to write down what the patient wants to say in the ward round or in their next 1:1 with their nurse. There’s also an inspired page where patients can write down (next to hour slots) what they usually do during the day when they’re not in hospital.

They’d been taking part in Star Wards for about 3 months. (Eastern directorate’s Acute Care Forum’s #1 objective is Star Wards. Yey Eastern!!) The predecessor major initiative was the Transition Project, to increase therapeutic activities and approaches, looking at what aspects of psychological care staff, patients, carers want. This resulted in more structured activities, community meetings, 1:1 sessions and increased patient engagement. The Transition Project team worked on 3 wards for 6 – 8 weeks, alongside nursing staff, with a focus on developments which could continue after that time. 6 months on, nursing staff feel a strong sense of ownership of the developments, regarding these as their own initiatives and achievements.

Wanting to keep this positive momentum going, they set up a network of keen people, using Star Wards as a framework – modern matrons, the Transition Planning team, doctors, psychological practitioners, and service user and carer reps. Successful lobbying of finance dept, resulted in all 17 wards in the Trust have £1k for therapeutic activities. This has become a valuable focus of community meetings as well as what it funds. Are planning an October conference showcasing best practice.

15 months ago there were 3 younger adult wards here, 2 in Canterbury, and 1 (+ 5 beds) in Margate.  There’s now a new triage/admission/assessment ward in Canterbury, with a PICU next to it. This has resulted in more settled treatment wards, not constantly interrupted by admissions, 136 arrivals etc.

St Martins Hospital, Canterbury

I was fortunate to meet with the irrepressible Jill, who theoretically has ‘retired’ from her role managing PALS, volunteering and related services, but happened to be working two days that week. (And no doubt the next week!) In yet another example of staff resourcefulness, she managed to secure funding from Attend’s Opportunities for Volunteering programme. This is really worth checking out as a source of volunteering funds, and indeed as another reason to join Attend:

The project is under the Early Interventions in Psychosis initiative and provides volunteering opportunities, training and mentoring for young people having a first experience of psychosis. Imaginative placements have included with a theatre, cattery and exhibiting artist.

Volunteers have been involved for many years in loads of different, valuable roles in the Trust including doing library trolley rounds, running the patients’ shop/café (well-stocked with exchangeable books and, thoughtfully, greetings cards as well as snack, toiletries etc), PALS’ reception, recreational spaces, putting on pantos (which Jill writes – reason in itself for the MBE she deservedly was awarded some years ago), putting on music events (including through Music in Hospitals), in the large hall which the (rather ancient) hospital is fortunate to have. Among direct benefits to patients is the ability for friends and kids to hang out with them in a more relaxed way than is possible on the wards. There’s also a library, and they have got round the problem about Trust anxiety about patients hacking into the network by… having a stand-alone, unnetworked PC! How simple is that?? And they got round the phoneline (or lack thereof) problem by using wireless connections.

Jill said that it’s easy to recruit students as volunteers in Canterbury, although there are gaps in holiday periods. Non-students often stay with the service as volunteers for years. The team also manage work experience placements, and as with volunteers, this can be a great step towards employment with the Trust.

And that’s just the start of the Kent story! Log on in a fortnight for the next installment! And if you can’t wait til then, you can contact the wonderful Janet Hatch for further details:[email protected]


All the best