We’re Loving Youth Buddy!

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By Geoff Brennan, Executive Director


There are days working for Star Wards that are just the best – travelling to exciting wards, seeing resources that will truly help ward staff, meeting exceptional staff and patients. On Friday the 27th of November I had just such a day.

After schlepping to Staplehurst in Kent I was picked up from the station and transported to Ash Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) ward. The ward itself is beautiful – bright, airy, tastefully decorated and surrounded by green fields. It offers multiple groups; family therapy; self soothe boxes for patients and is filled with young people’s art works. But a ward tour- wonderful as it turned out to be – wasn’t the main reason I was there.

Part of the South, London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust, the unit is far away from other trust sites which means they have trouble recruiting – but it’s still packed full of Mental Health Talent. These talented staff have taken our “Ward Buddy” recovery companion resource (see it here!) for inpatients and are adapting it for use by their young people.

Taking the Ward Buddy as a template, they are adapting it into an interactive PDF that will be loaded onto electronic tablets for the young people to complete on the ward and then download when they come to be discharged. Wow!! The result is called “Youth Buddy” and takes our little Buds as its symbol. Actually, they have made her look even cuter, if that’s possible.



The roll call of honour for this project is a testimony to how the unit has pulled in skills to create the Youth Buddy. On the ward the project was led by the Very Zen and wonderful Tracy Graham, with ward staff Lisa Harris and Tiz Smith providing the Yang to Tracy’s Ying. It was Lisa and Tiz who galvanized the young people and others on the ward to contribute.


On the technical side, a previous non-executive director of the trust, Kumar Jacob, sorted the actual PDF through collaboration between his own company, “Mindwave Ventures” and the SLaM IT department. The very clever Tanya Hardy who works with the IT department and Kumar was there when I visited to show us how it works. The IT department has even donated the tablets that will be used on the ward.


The project is coming to completion after several years of hard work. Anyone who has tried such a project on an active ward knows that it takes some staying power as there are so many demands on staff time. But this lot have staying power!

The app is in the final stages of being polished and tested and we hope to make it a joyous addition to our resources in 2016- once Tracy and her “crew” (that’s young people speak – see how down with the kids we are?) are happy to let us share it.

Here at Star Wards we always say that inpatient staff are remarkable. Time and again wards have proven this with their continual efforts to improve care. Ash ward, in taking our original idea and adapting it for young people have shown, once again, that we are justified on our belief and that, given the opportunity, wards can and do create wonders.



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