5 Sep

Ward Stars

What is Ward Stars?

(We use the term “HCA” to refer to healthcare assistants and auxiliaries, Assistant Practitioners, healthcare support workers and those giving support to clinical roles in mental health inpatient settings.) 

In her review, Camilla Cavendish described HCA and support workers as “extraordinary, dedicated carers”.  Ward Stars has been designed by us to help draw out the talent of this fabulous group of ward workers.  

Ward Stars is a funky validation and professional development scheme for Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) and other support workers. Ward Stars highlights those bits of HCAs’ work that patients really value. 

Ward Stars is structured around seven ‘Stars’, each with a different theme. It offers an opportunity for: HCA’s and other support workers to gain recognition for their work; to feel validated and appreciated; to have fun.

Rather than a more standardised training programme, we take a very “Star Wards” approach to development. Ward Stars is as much about appreciation of skills already these as developing new ones.

Staff who work their way through the Stars will develop a portfolio of evidence each completed Star. The Stars weave together a golden thread of values, skills, personal attributes and competences – very much in line with the Certificate of Fundamental Care proposed by the Cavendish Review. 

Healthcare assistants are fab!

We’re always struck by how complex, sensitive, emotionally and physically demanding it is to work on a mental health ward. And we’re full of appreciation for everyone who heroically does so, especially the amazing support staff who are often those who have most daily contact with patients.

These workers are often thought of as the ‘eyes and ears’ of the ward because they play such a key part in patient care and the ward culture. If you’re a HCA or support worker, you’ll remember countless times when you’ve had to draw on a diverse range of skills and talents (some of which you may not have realised you had). Skilfully juggling the needs of different patients, resourcefully providing engaging activity, being on hand to offer a listening ear, working to prevent or diffuse potentially explosive situations, being self-aware and dynamic, warm and committed -it’s certainly a demanding role!

We’re amazed by how many HCA’s and support workers have high levels of creativity and commitment. Ward Stars is all about appreciating and acknowledging this. 

But do note – Ward Stars is an achievement scheme rather than accreditation or training programme. Different people will apply the criteria differently, even idiosyncratically. And that’s great! Be prepared to let yourself shine.

Ward Stars is also designed to be adapted. The structure may also work well for your Occupational Therapist Assistants, Housekeepers and any other staff. We don’t mind at all if you do!

How Ward Stars Works

a. Ward Stars is designed to

  • Be motivating and energising for HCAs and support workers 
  • Make explicit those aspects of HCAs’ work particularly valued by patients 
  • Help HCAs’ and other support workers appetite for professional development
  • Provide a helpful structure for further development
  • Publicly validate good practice
  • Enhance the status and reputation of the support worker role
  • Help demonstrate the skills and qualities which are likely to be included in the Certificate of Fundamental Care proposed by the Cavendish Review

b.     Structure

There are seven ‘Stars’ based on the themes used in Wardipedia and represented by the acronym IMAGINE. These are:

  1. Imagination
  2. Mindfulness
  3. Activities
  4. Generosity
  5. Involvement
  6. Neighbours
  7. Empathy

Themes can be worked through in any order. We recommend starting with the one that attracts you the most or you think already have in the bag.

Conversely, you can start at Imagination and work through each one in the order shown above. We have provided a description of each Star along with some relevant tried-and-tested examples and ideas.

Each Star has a simple sheet to complete as evidence of your work and these build to a complete portfolio.  You can downlad them from the Ward Stars downloads page.

To accompany these there are seven Star certificates which can be presented on successfully completing each sheet. Each sheet also records the difference you have made to a patient or group pf patients’ care.

There’s a final ‘Super Star’ certificate for those staff who, magnificently, manage to complete all seven stars. These can also be downloaded via Ward Stars downloads page.  


c.      How Ward Stars can be used

As always with Star Wards, this is completely up to you! However it is used,  we hope it will help workers be aware of the range of skills and qualities they possess.

 d.     Relationship to other initiatives

Official core competencies

There’s no shortage of official lists of professional skills! Ward Stars doesn’t reflect all support worker skills, but does specify those that impact on patients’ daily experiences. Ward Stars relates to official competencies such as the Ten Essential Shared Capabilities, Knowledge and Skills Framework and National Occupational Standards in an informal way. Staff can cross-reference the criteria for Ward Stars with these to validate and evidence their skills. 

As part of the Compassion in Practice vision and strategy developed by NHS England, the ‘6Cs set out the values and behaviours that are at the heart of compassionate care and therefore naturally run throughout Ward Stars.

The Cavendish Review

The Cavendish Review is an independent report into Healthcare Assistants and Support Workers in the NHS and social care settings. This highly validating account of the “heroic” work of HCAs proposes a Certificate of Fundamental Care. The professional development and recording of skills involved in Ward Stars fits perfectly with the Cavendish review approach and recommendations.

e.   If you need help…

We’re offering you the opportunity to book our services, including training days, workshops, project facilitation and coaching (click here for more information). We offer reasonable rates and a bespoke service which aims to enhance the experience of patients, carers/family members and staff. We believe our offer will assist with some of the major challenges services face – to improve standards of safe care and to have less incidents of harm to staff and patients – leading to less staff absence, less complaints, reduced cost of investigation and legal action and reduced reputational damage. It will also help Bright and Star Wards to continue and thrive into the future. We can take you on a Bright Journey fitted to your needs and built around your requirements. For more please information contact us.

f.   Evidence base

The Happy Manifesto – Henry Stewart

The Cavendish Report

Compassion in Practice: Nursing, Midwifery and Care Staff. Our Vision and Strategy. Royal College of Nursing

TalkWell (our conversation guide)

10 Keys to Happier Living – Action For Happiness

Empirical research conducted by the Picker Institute identified eight quality dimensions which, through work with patients, have been found to be the most important to them

If Disney Ran Your Hospital by Fred Lee