Homerton mental health unit dramatically reduces use of restrictive practices

The John Howard Centre:Picture Ken Mears

The John Howard Centre:Picture Ken Mears - Credit: Archant

A Homerton mental health unit has dramatically reduced the use of physical restraint, seclusion and rapid tranquilisation when caring for patients.

After an 18-month voluntary programme, staff at West Ferry ward in the John Howard Centre reduced the use of restrictive practices by 25% - cutting their average use from 26 to 19.5.

West Ferry ward is one of 38 across the country involved in the Reducing Restrictive Practices programme set up by Royal College of Psychiatrists. The programme is part of the Mental Health Safety Improvement programme working to improve patient care.

Dr Amar Shah, national lead for the Mental Health Safety Improvement programme, said West Ferry ward staff achieved “outstanding results”: “They’ve shown that dramatic improvements to quality of care can happen when staff and service users have the freedom to come together to develop and test creative ideas.”

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Restrictive practices are used in mental health inpatient settings to protect the person restrained and others from harm.

However, it is an area of care which the Royal College of Psychiatrists would like to improve.

The professional medical body responsible for supporting psychiatrists in the UK and internationally, set up the programme to reduce restrictive practices of which there were over 100,000 instances last year, according to NHS data.

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Patients were kept in seclusion rooms and tranquilised thousands of times and physically restrained almost 73,000 times.

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Cath Gamble, Professional Lead for Mental Health at the Royal College of Nursing, said: “Mental health nurses have led the way to find solutions to make wards safer.

“Improvements around the use of restrictive practices would not be possible without them driving the action.”

The programme involved fortnightly meetings between staff and service users to identity and test new ideas on how to improve patient care and services.

Those meetings led to metal observational hatches being replaced with plastic ones to improve patients’ sleep as well as other improvements to patient care and services.

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Mental health wards across the Trust can access free online resources to help deliver programmes like the one implemented by West Ferry Ward.

Find out more at www.rcpsych.ac.uk/improving-care/nccmh/reducing-restrictive-practice