10 interventions to improve safety in a hospital psychiatric ward

Hospitals can increase safety in their psychiatric wards by implementing a set of ten low-cost interventions, according to a recent study published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies.

The study stems from a 20-year research program from the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King's College in London.

The study revealed that by using the 10 small, low-cost Safewards Interventions, psychiatric wards can increase staff skills, improve relationships with patients, reduce conflict and containment rates, decrease unpleasant forms of coercion and make psychiatric wards more peaceful places.

Listed below are the Safeward Interventions that were implemented for the study.

1. Mutually agreed upon and published behavior standards for patients and staff

2. Hanging short advisory statements on handling incidents in the nursing office which are changed every few days

3. Using a de-escalation model to expand the skills of the remaining ward staff

4. Requiring workers to say something good about each patient at nursing shift handover

5. Anticipating negative news a patient could receive from friends, relatives or staff and intervening to talk about it

6. Creating structured, shared, innocuous, personal information between staff and patients (e.g. music preferences, favorite films and sports, etc.) via a 'know each other' folder

7. Conducting a regular patient meeting to bolster, formalize and intensify inter-patient support

8. Providing distraction and sensory modulation tools to use with agitated patients

9. Reassuring patients following potentially frightening incidents; and

10. Displaying positive messages about the ward from discharged patients

According to the study, the Safewards Model reduces aggression, self-harm and other risky behaviors by 15 percent and reduces coercive control, such as restraint, by 24 percent.



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