Well Done Full Monty Riding

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Guest blog by Carol Oliver – Ward manager, Riding ward at Ferndene Unit.


We are an inpatient unit for young people, offering assessment and treatment. Our patients have mild to moderate learning disability or moderate to severe learning disability. They are admitted to Riding require assessment and treatment for complex mental health / behavioural and emotional needs.

We have always strived to achieve the best for families. Star Wards helped to identify areas that still needed further consideration and development, and also help staff to continue to be motivated when we are in a period of de-commissioning. When we began looking at Star Wards we had the majority in place. We focused on a few areas at a time with in the team, linking with ideas from the young people and their families.

Our Trust – Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust – has recently promoted “Talk First” and alongside this the implementation and involvement of staff in Safe Wards and Star Wards. This has been a great success not only for a ward but for a whole unit such as Ferndene. The ward has come up with areas of good practice linked to the 75 areas of Star Wards. This has enabled us to expand further through ideas from the other wards in the unit who all have a shared an interest of improving things for young people and their families. The improvements will be sustained through an internal working group within Ferndene, but also supported by the Trust where “catch up” session are held quarterly which include areas within the whole Trust. This again allows for the sharing of good practice and innovation. Star wards has helped us involve families and young people in the improvements and decisions that have been made in an easy and accessible way. It’s enabled us to move away from a very structured medical model.

Through our Star Wards project, more time is now used to celebrate and talk about the positive things happening on the ward and a chance to reflect on these. Families have been further involved in the care and decisions that are made, not just about the young people, but the environment. We’ve increased support networks and community involvement through better communication. We now have staff and career meetings which provide opportunities for family work.

Riding will continue to build on our high standard achieved through the Full Monty award but also continue with the work through CAMHeleon. The future plans are to continue to finalise an “Inpatient action plan” and implement across site.




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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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