SWAN Newsletter #5

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Welcome to the latest issue of SWAN – Star Wards Action Network, and happy new year. This fortnight it’s focusing on the role of sports therapists, thanks to information from our latest member, Alan Metherall of Wotton Lawn Hospital in Gloucester. The hospital provides a 7 day programme of activities for patients, has its own website (www.wottonlawnhospital.info) and would like to (re)introduce computers with Internet access. Does anyone have experience of this and specifically of restricting usage to appropriate websites? If so, please could you contact me and I can share the information with Alan and the rest of the network. Thanks.

Customer Service Inspiration, courtesy of The Office

Customer Service, David Brent-style, to start the new year.



News from trusts

Pavilion Ward, Mill View Hospital in Hove are currently writing up a

protocol for their weekly community meeting that would involve all staff and patients including domestic and catering personal. It’s an inspired idea to involve not just domestic staff, who often have very positive, relaxed relationships with patients, but catering staff as well, given how important the meals are to patients.

A really interesting and exciting development for Star Wards is that South Staffs are extending the ideas to other wards including forensic, mother and baby, drug dependency and eating disorders.

And here’s what Alan Metherall says about sports therapists’ contribution to Wotton Lawn Hospital:

The sport therapists came about through an inability to recruit registered physiotherapists. What a blessing this has been. Subsequent recruitment has also been fairly easy because of the impact the staff have had on our open wards and PICU and LSU. Sports therapy and physiotherapy compliment each other in a mutually beneficial way.

Interventions include individual and group sessions of:

  • Health education and promotion
  • Healthy Eating
  • Benefits of Exercise
  • Individual and Group sessions of circuit training,
  • trampoline
  • badminton
  • Walking groups
  • Canoeing
  • cycling
  • Swimming
  • Patient holidays
  • and others

Often interventions are initially provided within the hospital site (except swimming) but wherever possible activities are also provided in local community facilities. Free membership for service users has also been agreed with the local council for use of the gym where our staff also undertake the induction in that facility with the service user. We have also been able to provide student placements for student sport therapists from our local university.

Ideas in action

#18 Walking groups

The benefits of these are considerable including:

  • it being a realistic form of exercise for most patients to contemplate when they’re back home. No cost, no equipment, no health risks
  • they’re sociable in a very non-threatening way, and that social element can again be continued when back home through joining local walking groups
  • staff don’t need any special training or qualifications to facilitate these

#19 Half an hour of exercise a day

I’m not aware of any research on this, but it would be surprising if the inclusion of exercise didn’t have a positive impact on given the following: from the Times Online: “A spot of bingo is the best way to stop mental health inpatients from absconding. Fun and games have proved much more effective than regular observations or locked doors at the South Essex Partnership NHS.”


All the best




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You might be wondering – what difference does Star Wards actually make to mental health wards? It’s a question we continuously ask ourselves, to make sure that we are having a positive impact. Well, we have over 800 wards signed up to receive our resources and, in the past, we have had Star Wards independently evaluated. A micro-summary of what our users have said is that wards who tried Star Wards ideas had:

This is not about us, it is about people like you. These improvements are down to your hard work. And you can check our newsletters for wards doing amazing things right now. So we are told we do help you make a difference – and we want to get better and be here to help you in the future. So, join up, join in and let us know your wonderful ideas – and if you can donate to us or fundraise for us, we would be delighted to hear from you. Thank you for all you do.