NHS mental health trusts in the North put safe care first in new conference sharing best practice in reducing physical restraint

Two NHS mental health and disability trusts serving the North of England have joined forces on a ground-breaking conference devoted to sharing best practice in reducing the use of physical restraint.

The Putting People First: Positive and Safe Care conference took place on 7 November at the Stadium of Light in Sunderland, and is believed to be the first event of its kind in the North.

The conference was delivered by the North East and North Yorkshire Restraint Reduction Network and over 400 NHS staff attended from across the North.

Attendance was open to staff members at both Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW) and Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust (TEWV) as well as staff from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

The conference focused on the work taking place across NTW and TEWV to reduce and where possible eliminate the use of physical restraint for mental health inpatients, and incorporated twenty individual workshops on aspects of Positive and Safe Care, delivered by NTW and TEWV staff.

The programme also included keynote speeches from two ‘Experts by Experience’ who have both experienced inpatient mental health care.

Iris Benson MBE spoke movingly about her past experiences of facing stigma and discrimination, and how work such as Positive and Safe Care has transformed the experiences of inpatients in recent years.

Iris is a service user representative at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust who has been accessing mental health services for over twenty years, and is passionate about using her lived experiences to help others and offer hope for the future.

Expert by Experience Raf Hamaizia spoke about growing up in London and becoming involved with gang culture, his experience of mental health inpatient care and his subsequent work to ensure the voice of service users is listened to at all levels of the NHS.

Raf is an experienced patient leader and founder of The Joint Thinking Initiative, a user-led organisation focusing on co-production and service user involvement.

I’m delighted that so many NHS staff working in mental health across our region were able to share best practice in bringing service users, staff and carers together to reduce violence and challenging behaviour. I’d like to thank each and every member of staff who worked on making this conference possible, and in particular our two Experts by Experience, guest speakers Iris and Raf.

Ron WeddleDeputy Director of Positive & Safe Care at NTW

NTW’s Positive and Safe Care strategy includes Talk 1st, a Trust-wide initiative to reduce the need for restrictive interventions which include physical restraint.

Talk 1st was set up in 2016 and was specifically cited by the Care Quality Commission as an area of good practice in its latest inspection report which rated NTW as “Outstanding”. Nationally, NTW remains one of only two NHS providers of mental health and disability services to receive an “Outstanding” rating.

Work within the Talk 1st initiative includes introducing “Safewards” interventions to all NTW’s inpatient wards. Safewards is a thoroughly researched set of 10 interventions which focus on factors influencing safety, such as staff routines, patient characteristics and the physical environment of the ward.

Alongside Safewards NTW’s inpatient wards have also implemented “Star Wards” – a suite of 75 ideas enabling mental health inpatients to make best use of their time in hospitals through meaningful activities which allow inpatient staff to use all their skills.

Star Wards ideas range from having board games, self-help books and newspapers available for patients, to holding regular ‘community meetings’ bringing together patients and staff, arranging individual exercise plans for all patients and offering flexible visiting hours.

All 55 of NTW’s inpatient wards offer many of the Star Wards ideas, and 46 wards have already received the “Full Monty” award for implementing all 75 ideas.

Safewards and Star Wards are brilliant instruments, but it takes local champions to own them, mould them and truly make them sing. What is happening in the north east is inspirational and transformational, not just to other inpatient services in the UK, but throughout the world. It was an honour to be there.

Geoff BrennanExecutive Director of the Star Wards project and a keynote speaker at the conference

Other aspects of NTW’s Positive and Safe Care strategy include the extensive use of clinical data dashboards to support staff in quickly identifying trends and patterns of incidents on their wards and act quickly to reduce incidences of aggression.

NTW’s Children’s and Young People’s Service (CYPS) wards have also developed their own version of Star Wards called CAMHeleon, and the national Star Wards programme now offers other CYPS services around the country the chance to achieve this award.

The Putting People First conference was introduced by NTW Executive Director of Nursing and Chief Operating Officer Gary O’Hare and TEWV’s Deputy Chief Executive Elizabeth Moody.

Other speakers included Guy Cross – Mental Health Lead at the Care Quality Commission – and Stephen Davison, Lead Nurse for TEWV’s Positive and Safe programme.

NTW’s Talk 1st team regularly shares news about good practice in Positive and Safe Care on social media. You can follow Talk 1st on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

Find out more about Star Wards at https://www.starwards.org.uk 

Find out more about Safewards at http://www.safewards.net/