Safer hospital wards for everyone

A new program to reduce conflict between staff and patients is being trialled across ACT public hospitals.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith today launched the trial of the Safewards model, which will be implemented in four wards across Canberra Hospital and Calvary Public Hospital.

Minister Stephen-Smith said the program has been successful in other Australian states and territories at reducing ward events involving conflict, with the most improvements seen in adult and youth mental health wards. It has also had an impact on staff and consumers feeling safer and more positive in inpatient environments.

“Any conflict that happens on a ward can cause distress to those involved in an already stressful environment.” said Minister Stephen-Smith.

“The Safewards program gives staff the tools to deescalate conflict and build positive relationships with each other and their patients.

“Some examples include setting clear mutual expectations with patients, visual signage in the ward about sensitive and respectful communication, a display of positive notes written by patients and their carers before discharge, and creating a box of items that patients can use to feel calmer and more relaxed.”

“Safewards aims to support staff and clients to work together to make facilities and wards more peaceful and friendly, and therefore safer for everyone.”

The trial will be held across four public hospital wards:

  • Canberra Hospital General Medical Ward 7B
  • Canberra Hospital Adult Acute Mental Health Unit
  • Calvary Public Hospital General Medical Ward 4B
  • Calvary Public Hospital Older Person Mental Health Inpatient Ward

The Safewards trial is a deliverable of the Nurses and Midwives: Towards a Safer Culture strategy, which sets the ACT’s vision for a safer and healthier environment for all nursing and midwifery staff and persons who enter ACT public health workplaces.

The ACT Health Directorate, Canberra Health Services, Calvary Public Hospital Bruce, Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation ACT and Health Care Consumer’s Association are working in collaboration on the Towards a Safer Culture strategy and this trial.

Findings and outcomes of the six-month trial will be used to consider broader implementation of the Safewards program across the ACT’s public health system.

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