Wrexham Maelor mental health team named best in UK
A Wrexham based healthcare team have received a top national award for their work to bring laughter and joy to people most seriously affected by mental ill health.
Staff from Tryweryn Ward at Wrexham Maelor Hospital’s Heddfan Unit beat stiff competition from NHS teams from across the UK to be named the Nursing Times’ Team of the Year.
The prestigious award has been given in recognition of “incredible” changes the team have made to the eight-bed Tryweryn Pychiatric Intensive Care Ward, which provides care and support for people who are so acutely unwell that they cannot be safely treated on a general mental health ward.
Tryweryn Ward staff worked with current and past patients through service user involvement organisation Caniad to find new ways to deliver care in order to improve the experience of patients, and reduce the number of restraints.
This has seen the introduction of a of a range of new activities and therapies on the ward, including joint yoga sessions, hand massages and baking, as well as a new ‘rant and relax room’, which has been designed by patients.
The rant and relax room has a sofa, weighted blankets, calming essential oils, mood lighting and noise-cancelling headphones to listen to music through.
Caniad service manager Denise Charles said: “Different people let off steam in different ways. If someone is feeling like they’re not able to express themselves, they may become very distressed.
“Instead of needing to safely restrain them, we can guide people towards the safe room and encourage them to either let it all out, or just lay under the weighted blanket. We comfort them.”
Since introducing the changes, Tryweryn Ward staff have managed to halve the number of restraints performed, while patient satisfaction scores have increased significantly in the same time.
“There is now much more laughter on the ward because it’s patient-led” explained Denise.
“A lot of what makes people severely unwell is trauma. And patients are reporting to us that they feel safer – that’s all we can ask.”
As well as having a positive impact on patients, the reduction in restraints has resulted in less paperwork for staff, enabling them to have more therapeutic contact with patients.
Ward manager Matt Jarvis said: “It’s all very simple really – just asking how we can support people’s individual needs, and actually listening to what they have to say.
“And we’re all connected that way. It’s become a small community where everyone has relationships and links.
“Instead of patients just having to meet our criteria, we’ll also meet theirs. We’ll meet them when they’re in crisis and support them in the way that they want.”
Tony Carr is an expert-by-experience and Caniad involver who has been involved in the project from the start.
Caniad was commissioned by Betsi Cadwaladr Health Board to support service users and their carers, and is hosted by rehab and recovery charity CAIS and mental health charity Hafal.
He said: “I was three weeks out of alcohol detox and needed to find something positive to do at the time, so I was introduced to Caniad.
“At first I went in with my eyes wide shut and thought ‘Oh, we’ll just make them smile’,” recalls Tony. “Then you see that you’re not just helping their happiness you’re also helping their treatment.
“The residents love it, they’re happy and you don’t have to worry about them becoming distressed.”
Steve Forsyth, BCUHB’s director of nursing and operations for mental health & learning disabilities services, added: “I couldn’t be more proud of the team’s efforts, and this award is testament to their determination, motivation, high standards and values.
“The team are about having open and interested conversations with people and families who need support.
“By valuing and making the most of the time people spend on the ward, Tryweryn Ward staff have managed to create a wonderful therapeutic environment in which joy and laughter are essential ingredients to support people to recovery.”
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