South first to try new mental health approach

In an effort to reduce conflict and enhance staff-patient relationships, the Southern District Health Board is implementing a new approach to inpatient care. 

Safewards is a model of care born out of research undertaken in the UK, and the SDHB is the first in New Zealand to adopt the model. 

SDHB mental health addictions and intellectual disability nursing director Heather Casey said “The aim is to make inpatient wards a more therapeutic and peaceful place and to create a safe environment for everyone.” 

One of the new intervention methods has seen the wards introduce digital photo frames, which provide information about the staff working within the wards for the patients to read, covering things like the qualifications staff hold to their hobbies and interests.  The familiarity can help form faster relationships, which leads on to people feeling more comfortable and reassured during their admission, Casey said. 

Other methods include starting the day with mutual help meetings, where patients are encouraged to identify ways of helping and supporting each other.  

Patients are also encouraged to leave positive messages prior to discharge or at any time on a Hope Tree. 

Staff would continue to implement the model and were always looking at how the inpatient services could be improved, Casey said. 

By Dave Nicoll, The Southland Times, 12 January 2017 (abridged).