Better outcomes after ward changes

The experience of acute psychiatric care could be improved by allowing service users and staff to make changes at ward level, according to a major three-year study.

Joint agreements on definitions of therapeutic activities and reviews of the purpose of ward rounds were among initiatives thought to contribute to reduced medication rates, fewer patients on observation and falling numbers of service users readmitted within 90 days.

The Sainsbury Centre for Mental Health study also tested introducing social and recreational activities on wards, setting up a family visiting room and holding “awareness fairs”, where in-patient and community teams shared information.

Four sites across England worked with the Sainsbury Centre to introduce a variety of changes over three years, during which user satisfaction levels increased on most counts, particularly in relation to ward staff, activities offered and safety.

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.”

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