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28 Oct

Ward Stars Foreword by Nic Higham

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Bright’s Inpatient Care Project Manager

When I first started working as a healthcare support worker (the HCA equivalent in my Trust), I often felt a twinge of guilt about having so much fun at work. Surely work wasn’t supposed to be about enjoying yourself! That’s not to say the job is without challenges (including shiftwork), but all-in-all I simply love spending time with patients, whether that is accompanying them for a walk around the grounds (often a much needed breath of fresh air for me as much as them), playing a game of scrabble or monopoly, attending to patients’ physical care (what an honour that is), or providing them with some time and space to talk about how they feel.

It’s an extremely varied role that uses many different skills and competences, which seems right because we look after lots of different people who have their own uniqueness and needs. It’s difficult to list a definitive set of essential skills, attributes or values that come into play when working on the ward; rather we respond accordingly and appropriately to each person, to each moment that presents itself. Sometimes the powerful impact our compassion and empathy has on people’s lives seems impalpable. A certain touch, or word, or expression, however subtle can work wonders. Most of the time relational depth transcends neat theories or the stuff of text books.  But compassion and empathy, along with warmth and understanding – however “invisible” – are always key. The tangibility of these qualities is demonstrated in patients’ recovery.  And it’s the most satisfying thing to see patients feeling ready to go home, and to have been part of their journey.

Ward Stars will assist you with building up an endorsed collection of your achievements and help you feel recognised and acknowledged; to show just what a huge impact you have on the ward and individual patients. Over time you will have collected a portfolio of creative, inventive, therapeutic examples which will be no doubt extremely handy for professional development purposes. Or you might simply enjoy the buzz of collecting and browsing through your catalog of successes.

The guide offers a helpful structure, the acronym IMAGINE (which you can read more about below), has become Star Wards’ framework for great therapeutic care. It also links Ward Stars to Wardipedia, our online compendium of great inpatient care.  There will be many examples and ideas that seem familiar as well as some new ones – maybe even some surprises. But the point is that this structure is descriptive, not prescriptive. Like all Star Wards resources, Ward Stars is here to inspire your own ideas, and again, do please adopt and adapt to fit your service.

As HCAs we fulfill an extraordinary role. The compassionate relationships we establish and nurture are at the heart of daily ward life. Never underestimate the positive and lasting influence your values, skills, personal attributes and competences have on the lives of the people you care for.

Keep up the amazing work and enjoy your Ward Stars journey!

More information about Ward Stars

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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:

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