Thursday, June 20, 2024

Health care assistant recognised for enhancing patient safety

A HEALTHCARE assistant has been recognised for her work to enhance patient and staff safety.

Azer Pogmore has been leading work to introduce the Safewards model into Grangewater Ward at our mental health assessment unit in Basildon.

Safewards is a project founded by researchers at King’s College London, which looks at how staff and patients can work more closely together to improve safety and reduce restrictive practice on inpatient wards.

It focuses on improving communication and relationships, which in turn leads to a better ward environment, reduces use of restrictive practice, and improves patient and staff well-being.

The principles are being used by psychiatric wards across the world and Safewards is being implemented in our inpatient wards, including those delivering acute and psychiatric intensive care, and some of our specialist services. 

Professor Alan Simpson and Geoff Brennan, who lead the Safewards project, recognised Azer for her inspirational work and dedication with a certificate of achievement.

Azer said: “I am very passionate about Safewards and have enjoyed implementing it into our ward.

“The positive impact this is having on the patients, even at these early stages, is very noticeable.

“It’s very patient-focused. Everything we do is always about patients and staff having 100 per cent control over what happens, rather than a ‘them and us’ culture.

“When someone is unwell, being admitted to hospital can be frightening, isolating and stressful.
“That’s where Safewards come in, as we can engage better with that person, be open and form a connection with them.

“That’s when they are more likely to open up too and it’s all about communication and being empathetic.”

Since the model was introduced earlier this year in Grangewater Ward, the use of restrictive practice has dropped.

There has also been an increase in positive feedback from patients. Some of the feedback we have received includes:

·       ‘‘One patient said that he has been using our services for ten years and this is his best admission. They feel like we are treating them like adults and real human beings, staff are listening and wanting to get to know the patients, and being able to go outside is fantastic.”

·       “I have been admitted to this ward a few times. This time is by far been the best for my recovery. Being less restricted has meant I’ve felt respected and empowered.”

·       “Everyone is talking about how positive these changes are for us patients, and our respect for staff has now gone up, meaning we can better use them for support.”

Safewards champions ten key approaches, which are designed to improve relationships and communication.

For example, ‘Know Each Other’ is about how patients and staff can find areas of common interest and conversational topics by sharing information about their backgrounds and interests.

Azer asked permission from her colleagues to put their photos and a picture of their pets or information about their interests on a board so that patients could learn more about the staff caring for them.

She said: “99% of patients who come through our doors love animals. When they see an animal photo next to a photo of its owner, it gives us an instant connection.

“We’re strangers but when people come in for a mental health assessment, we expect them to be open and honest, which can be difficult because they don’t know us.

“So having this little board of information on the wall of our pets, our favourite animal, our favourite film etc. gives them a little bit of insight into us.”

Healthcare assistant Wendy Scott has also painted a ‘discharge tree’ mural, where patients can add leaves when they are discharged from the ward and leave messages of support for new patients to read.

Patients can also raise any concerns about the ward environment with staff at their daily patient safety huddles.

Azer, who joined the Trust three years ago, said: “The patient safety huddles are fantastic.

“All the patients have an open space to be free and express their feelings and any concerns are documented and looked into.

“That’s made a massive difference.”

Katy Stafford, Deputy Director of Quality and Safety for the Urgent Care and Inpatients Care Unit, said: “Azer works with great resilience, passion and energy with a focus on patient engagement and reducing restrictive practice, all reflected in her strides to take Safewards forwards.  

“As a result, the patients talk incredibly highly of her and she has now been recognised externally to the Trust.

“Azer’s enthusiasm for Safewards has been contagious and her colleague Wendy Scott recently worked with patients on the ward to paint their incredibly beautiful discharge tree, another fantastic Safewards intervention.”

Introducing Safewards builds on our ongoing work to deliver high quality, safe care and ensure patients are at the heart of everything we do.

It also builds on our work to empower the people we care for to have more say in their care, so we can provide personalised care and therapeutic environments to best meet their needs.

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