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An interview with forensic psychiatrist Leigh Ferris – Deputy Charge Nurse at Rosebrook Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit, Southern Health and Social Care Trust

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When your staff feel undervalued, under too much pressure, exhausted and believe staffing levels are too low, you know you’re in trouble. This was the position the Rosebrook Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit, Southern Health and Social Care Trust found themselves in last year. They were haemorrhaging staff and morale was at an all-time low. Something drastic had to happen.

Those in the know

That’s when the unit started using ImproveWell. “We wanted to give them a voice,” says Leigh Ferris, Senior Charge Nurse. “Staff were feeling disempowered, not listened to. They were working very, very hard. But they were caught in a cycle of reporting the same problems, trying the same solutions, and there was a top-down approach.”

Just starting the process changed the dynamic – staff knew their worries were being taken seriously and that they were the best ones to find solutions. “We identified a highly motivated and influential staff member as a champion,” Leigh continues. “Efforts to innovate and improve our services came down to really listening, learning and acting on what we heard from both service users and staff. And the ImproveWell app is primarily about listening to staff.”

As well as “ensuring that people were being recognised for their achievements, their suggestions, and their innovation”, the team used the app to survey the success of ideas and to give staff a platform for some fun things. Two crucial changes were suggested early on and have since been adopted, creating the new roles of Safety Nurse and Medication Nurse. “These two ideas completely changed the staff’s confidence in their jobs. It gives them real pride in their work and everybody just started to work a whole lot better with these suggestions. Things really started to improve and save time and energy,” Leigh says. “Bringing them into the process of change as investors and as stakeholders from the conception phase was really, really important.

“These are changes from the people on the ground, who know what they’re doing, and who know what isn’t working and why. They are the guys that are seeing the solutions. But if you don’t have this app, it doesn’t get recorded and people get frustrated about talking about the same problems over and over again. So this was just a way of capturing ordinary conversations and ordinary ideas.”


What happened next

“In the last 12 months we haven’t lost a single staff member,” Leigh reveals. “And recruitment has been successful. There’s a change in how others perceive our team and it’s a place where people want to come to work. That’s a clear sign that our aim of improving culture on the ward is working.”

There’s also a halo effect – the impact of the project is greater than the direct participants, as more and more people start to feel the benefit of improvements made, become aware of ImproveWell, feel lifted by the enthusiasm of engaged participants and feel part of a collaborative environment.

The results speak for themselves. 100% of staff surveyed agree/strongly agree that ImproveWell gives them a voice, would recommend the app to other staff, agree that it has been a useful addition to the ward they work in and agree that ImproveWell has led to a positive change in the ward that they work in.


Discover more about the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.

Download the full transcript here

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