Positive and Safe Care team shortlisted for two prestigious awards

Posted: 20/07/20

Close-up of a purple perspex award that reads 'RCNi Nurse Awards', against a blurred background of fairy lights and other out-of-focus awards

The Positive and Safe Care team at Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (CNTW) has been shortlisted in two prestigious national awards, recognising their efforts to improve the quality and safety of the care provided to people across the north of England.

The team’s Sleepwell project has been shortlisted in the Health Service Journal Patient Safety awards 2020, in the ‘Mental Health Initiative of the Year’ category. These awards help drive improvements in culture and quality across the NHS by celebrating the teams putting safety first.

The Sleepwell pilot project is a partnership between clinical and research staff at CNTW and undergraduate students and lecturers at Newcastle University. Problems sleeping are common on psychiatric wards due to ward environments and frequent checks on patients throughout the night, and the project set out to find ways of improving people’s sleep quality while on inpatient wards.

The team found that for many people, a ‘protected sleep period’ between midnight and 6am where no checks were carried out was safe and effective, and better sleep helped them to get the most out of the treatment they were receiving. Although many people still needed regular overnight checks to ensure their health and safety, about half of patients on the pilot wards were able to have protected sleep time with no disturbances.

Rod Bowles, Head of Positive and Safe Care at the Trust, said: “To see the positive impact of our work recognised by the Health Service Journal is a huge honour for everyone involved in the Sleepwell pilot project. We are currently working hard to pass on what we have learned to other staff within CNTW, to help everyone get good sleep while they are under our care.”

Feedback from staff and patients on the wards involved in the Sleepwell pilot, and their families and carers, has been overwhelmingly positive, with many commenting on how much more peaceful and settled the wards feel on an evening. The Sleepwell Project was also ‘highly commended’ in the Positive Practice in Mental Health awards last year.

The finalists of the prestigious RCNi Nurse Awards 2020 have also been revealed, showcasing excellence in the profession during the International Year of the Nurse and Midwife. Talk 1st, another initiative from CNTW’s Positive and Safe Care team, is a finalist in the Mental Health Nursing category.

This award recognises teams whose innovative approach has inspired service users and colleagues, and improved the lives of people they care for.

Paul Sams, Service User Project Co-ordinator in the Positive and Safe Care team, said: “We are so pleased to be finalists in the Mental Health Nursing award – especially as our nomination came from Geoff Brennan, Chief Executive of the charity BRIGHT and Executive Director of Star Wards, who is an inspiring leader in the field of improving care on inpatient mental health wards.

“Talk 1st supports our wards and community services to develop their own action plans to reduce violence and aggression. We’re proud of the approach we have developed to unlocking local solutions to local issues by closely involving service users and their carers.

“Since being launched in 2016 the programme has resulted in a measurable decrease in restraint and aggression on wards, and received praise from the Care Quality Commission (who rate the Trust as “outstanding”) and NHS Improvement.”

The project uses what is known as a trauma-informed approach. This involves recognising the signs of someone having experienced trauma in the past, and working with them in a way that helps them feel safe, encourages them to trust staff, and allows them to collaborate with and feel empowered by services.

Paul added, “We have also recently concluded a successful pilot of ‘Safety Huddles’, which are currently being rolled out across the Trust. These work by encouraging both staff and patients to come together to assess how positive and safe the ward feels, and to take action to make things feel better when necessary. This really breaks down the traditional ‘them and us’ barriers between staff and service users.”

The RCNi Nurse Awards shortlist was due to be announced in March, but was postponed while nurses focused on patients and colleagues during the COVID-19 pandemic.

RCNi managing director Rachel Armitage said: “No one could have predicted just how much this really would be the Year of the Nurse and the Midwife.

“While our entries closed before the pandemic, we believe the time is right to showcase the professionalism, clinical expertise and compassionate care delivered by the nursing team to patients UK-wide, not just during this crisis but every day of every year.

“The RCNi Nurse Awards 2020 are a chance to celebrate these achievements, as well as recognise nursing’s exceptional contribution to the Covid-19 response and those who lost their lives.”

The winners of both awards will be announced later this year.