Daily meetings between staff and patients heralded as way to improve psychiatric wards

Daily morning meetings between staff and patients have been heralded as one way to make psychiatric wards more satisfactory environments in which to work.

Details of the initiative at the Meadowfield unit, in Worthing, Sussex, are contained in a report by the Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health (SCMH)

The unit’s staff and patients meet daily to plan activities to both suit patients and use the skills of staff on duty.

Meadowfield Unit is run by West Sussex Health and Social Care NHS Trust.

The SCMH report also includes details of a ward round code of practice developed by Mersey Care NHS Trust’s Broadoak unit in Liverpool. The code aims to ensure ward rounds are less intimidating for patients.

The report, entitled Search for Acute Solutions, is based on three years’ work in four acute psychiatric units in England.

Each unit worked with SCMH workers to try and change how wards were organised, the care that was offered and the activities available.

Search for Acute Solutions project manager Tina Braithwaite said: “Our experience of working with our partner sites is that much can be done if the right support and encouragement is given to staff. The involvement of service users is crucial together with organisation-wide commitment including from managers and community teams.

“Where people are prepared to take risks, think differently and embrace change, a lot can be achieved. The challenge now is to continue to change the way acute care is delivered and make it a better experience for staff and service users across the country.”

The Sainsbury Centre’s chief executive, Angela Greatley, said: “Acute inpatient mental health services have been much criticised in recent years. Many wards struggle with staff shortages and high bed occupancy. They have an increasingly uncertain role in a mental health system characterised by a range of community teams and services.

““The future of acute mental health in open to debate. But whatever happens long-term, we should never accept the poor state of many wards today.”

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