Dorset Healthcare

A hotbed of Safewards


Accepting an invite to the Action Learning Set for the safewards project from Dorset Healthcare found me in a room with a great bunch of people. Another inspiring day with front line staff who really are on top of their game.

Is everything smooth, easy and simple? Of course not. We are talking about acute inpatient care, -chaotic and vibrant, psychotic and challenging. But the staff and patients are clearly up for the challenge. The discussion and debate covered culture change, how to deal with resistance, the inclusion of peer workers in the evaluation and the difficulty of allowing real local ownership. We debate the challenges of the model as well as the opportunities. The staff are quite rightly working through the interventions at their own pace and making them their own, mindful of the need to keep the core objectives of power sharing and confronting institutional thinking .

One of the great quotes for me was when Phil Morgan, Lead for Recovery and Social Inclusion in the Trust recounted a conversation with NHS England when he was discussing the adoption of Safewards in the Trust. He used the phrase “pilot wards” and the person he was talking to corrected him saying that the wards were not pilots as the research had already been completed with the trial. “The four wards are pioneer wards” she said, “not pilot wards”. I must admit, I liked that. Phil is a great link to the peer workers in the Trust who have signed up for some co-produced qualitative evaluation of the patient experience. One of the peer workers was at the meeting and this relationship and what comes out of it will be very interesting and I do hope we hear more about the results.

The only real downer of the day was saying goodbye to Liz James, who is leaving. Thankfully Paul Hutchings is taking over and is very capable, but Liz has been fantastic. Good luck in the future Liz James.