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Woodlands unit. Photo credit EADT
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Trust's Suffolk mental health unit adopts Safewards model

Woodlands, the Ipswich base for acute mental health services in East Suffolk, has become the first unit within Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust to adopt the Safewards model.

Based on research by Professor of Psychiatric Nursing, Len Bowers, the Safewards model encourages staff and patients to work together to reduce factors such as aggression and self-harm, as well as reducing the use of interventions including extra medication, one-to-one observations and restraint.

A recent Department of Health paper, Positive and Proactive Care: Reducing The Need For Restrictive Interventions, stated that the Safewards model had ‘demonstrated significant effectiveness in achieving reductions in incidents of conflict and the use of physical restraint…’

Acting Modern Matron at Woodlands, Tara Brown, said: “Our use of Safewards followed a review of incidents of restraint. We looked at the evidence for practice used in other areas and learnt how Safewards had been adopted by other Trusts across the country.

"We were, therefore, very pleased to receive support from Geoff Brennan, Nurse Tutor at the Institute of Psychiatry, who visited us in February and facilitated sessions with staff from across the inpatient wards. He provided information about the research behind Safewards and enabled staff to explore the 10 interventions used within the model.

“Since then, we have identified champions who are promoting Safewards and supporting teams and each other in using the interventions. Work is under way to raise the profile of Safewards and to implement some of the interventions as part of practice.

"We have arranged regular Safewards meetings so that we can share progress, ideas and suggestions and highlight where interventions are working well. Staff awareness and understanding is increasing and further in-house training is planned. There has been a strong and positive acceptance of this model and it has fuelled enthusiasm for therapeutic practices which have a strong evidence base.”

Following the successful introduction of Safewards at Woodlands, work is being undertaken to introduce it to the Trust’s inpatient wards at King’s Lynn.​