Star Wards supports a programme of improving service user and staff experience in mental health inpatient service settings via a list of 75 items, including service users being involved in staff recruitment and peer support events. It gives a great foundation to make improvements, evaluate good practice and supports reducing restrictive practice. The aim was to make the low secure wards more therapeutic and less restrictive.
“When I saw the wards they were far from the ancient stereotype of a secure service. I saw no staff jangling keys, saw patients active and engaged and, when I chatted to them, they were full of praise for the ward staff and all they had done.”Geoff Brennan, Executive Director, Star Wards
The team at Cygnet Hospital Bierley made a conscious decision to improve the service user experience via the Star Wards initiative. Initially a team consisting of a service user, involvement coordinator, ward manager, occupational therapist, activity coordinator, a nurse and a healthcare support worker on Bronte Ward came together on a regular basis and reviewed the Star Wards audit and made plans for any unmet areas.
Having a service user and the involvement coordinator on the team ensured the process was collaborative and that service users were central to making the improvements in their own environment. The team then expanded to Shelley Ward to include the same representatives from that team as it was felt that both wards shared the same value for improving service user experience.
“With our Star Wards experience and other developments such as our recovery college our service has become much more inclusive and less restrictive. Having service users working with us means that we are constantly reflecting on our practice and questioning what and why we do things and if we can do it better.”Neil Voakes, Lead Occupational Therapist
Having the service users involved in the review process made sure that it was not the staff’s agenda but that of the people who we were making the improvements for instead. An example of this was that service users picked the themes for the ward sensory rooms and chose the resources needed. In addition to ward sensory rooms other ward based therapy initiatives included ward therapy kitchens and Pets as Therapy.
For more information on Star Wards go to: www.starwards.org.uk.