SWAN Newsletter #7

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Star Wards Action Network

Welcome to the latest issue of SWAN. Thanks again to those of you who responded to the invitation to be a pilot site for the DoH’s Information Prescriptions’ project. Our project partner, Mind, is looking for other funders to help get Mind libraries and other information services onto acute wards so I’ll keep you posted.

News from trusts

I’m very grateful to Ian Trodden from Hartlepool, not only for the latest benchmarking tool, but also for the first account we’ve received of which Star Wards’ ideas have been implemented. Ian writes: “We are using tweaking, turning and transforming as categories.  The tweaking is done within 3 months; the

turning has a six month standard and the transforming up to twelve months.  Obviously if we can get them done sooner then great but it gives us a standard for each category.  We have completed our self assessment in conjunction with the patients on the ward and relatives.   We have already started to make quick wins and the initiative is driven via our acute care forum.”

And those quick wins are: “Comedy evening every Wednesday as decided by the ward patients (at present videos but looking into local comedians); library novels and magazines; walking groups; Daily diaries and personal recovery packs; self-help books and tapes /dvds and computers and internet access.  The last one is about patients also having access to their bank accounts etc as well as all the stuff we use

computers for.  More recently we have secured some land that will be used as allotments for patients across the system of care.  This is a very exciting prospect in that patients can grow the vegetables that they can then cook them back at the unit. We are also in the process of linking in with Hartlepool football club (they are on 600 yards from our unit) so that we can raise awareness about stigma etc via them and visit them and them us.  The lads (and some of the lasses) will love that!!!”

Fabulous. We’d of course love to know which of the ideas other trusts are introducing, as well as what’s proving tricky. Solutions to obstacles (eg with Internet access and involving volunteers) would be particularly welcome.

Many thanks to Jo Spencer from Highgate Mental Health Centre and Julie Smith from Surrey and Borders Partnership for arranging for me to visit. Highlights of my Highgate visit (in addition to the unexpected sudden sighting of Karl Marx’s grave from a ward staircase….) included learning about their weekly drop-in medication clinic, a purpose-built and well-resourced OT centre, and employing psychology graduates as HCAs.

Surrey and Borders are one of our new member sites, and already (i.e. pre-Star Wards) have many impressive initiatives and care practices which will be of considerable interest to network members:

  • Because many patients find it hard to get involved with anything before about 11AM, and most are felt to be at their best by early evening, the Trust is looking at ways of organising staff (eg OTs’) hours around this
  • A gym instructor visits twice a week and they use a ‘personal trainer’ model. It’s lovely to hear of in-patients having access to a very high status resource
  • Idea # 64 (one of the ‘transforming’ category) is successfully in place – patients on one ward have a £50 budget which they decide how to spend on weekend activities, such as bowling, cafes, films. (Weekend activities! We didn’t get any of those at The Priory…..) They’ve found that there are a range of benefits from patients having control of this budget, in addition to the activities being ones that each group of patients has chosen. It shouldn’t be amazing, but is, that the wards have access to a 7 seater car and a mini-bus, which obviously really helps with outings
  • Make-over sessions are spectacularly successful, with female patients enjoying each others’ attention and physical contact as well as their new look nails, hair etc. The staff I met with were particularly animated about the benefits to male patients of foot spas. Feel great and definite personal hygiene boost. Self-esteem rises all round.
  • A de-escalation room with resources for self-soothing including ‘care bags’ which appeal to the senses of sight, touch and smell. The room includes a rocker, light projection and body-sized bean bags.
  • Blue-tooth technology, so that patients can use head phones without the risk that accompanies wires

The Trust has been fortunate to receive a (well-deserved) bequest from a former patient and is going to use the income to help implement some of Star Wards’ ideas.

Ideas in action

Only room for one this fortnight….

#29 Flexible visiting hours

The practical and cultural benefits of this are pretty self-evident. But it seems there can be parallel disadvantages. One Trust which has successfully introduced Refocusing has found that making visiting hours more restricted and specific has resulted in calmer, safer wards. Have any of you managed to combine flexible visiting hours with calm, safe wards?

All the best