Achieving better mental health

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Whole Ward Project brings fresh approach to achieving better mental health

Staff and service users at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust have been part of a pioneering project aiming to promote health and wellbeing. 

Maudsley Charity has helped Maintaining Health Partners, a Southwark-based cooperative of qualified and experienced therapists, to deliver The Whole Ward project. The project provided a varied programme of free holistic therapy for staff and service users at the Maudsley Hospital. 

The project provided a choice of non-clinical interventions on a female psychiatric intensive care unit, a men’s acute ward and the Maudsley gym. It aimed to promote health, wellbeing and community using a range of therapeutic exercise and holistic therapies including meditation, massage, reflexology and yoga.

The project also introduced and reinforced healthy habits to improve mental and physical well-being, such as reducing caffeine intake, getting enough fresh air, drinking herbal teas and eating organic fruit and vegetables. Volunteers were also recruited and trained to help with the project.

'Positive impacts' of the project

Dr David Blazey, Head of Grants at the Maudsley Charity said: "We at the Maudsley Charity were pleased to see the positive impacts that the project had on those who participated in the activities provided, both inside and beyond the ward. Relaxation was highlighted by participants as being of prime benefit to them, as was the positive impact on ward atmosphere reported by staff.

“Given the difficulties generally associated with psychiatric intensive care units, where there are often high levels of agitation, these were very significant achievements. In the light of constant efforts to achieve an ethos of compassionate care, it was noteworthy that so many patients reported that the sessions helped staff and patients to get along better.

“This was confirmed by therapists, who felt that the sessions were inclusive and helped build links between people in hospital, the people using South London and Maudsley services and the local community. We were very pleased that Maintaining Health Partners have managed so successfully to sustain this project and achieve such rewarding outcomes in a very difficult and constantly changing environment."


There was consistently high participation from staff and service users throughout the three-year project and sessions at the Maudsley gym were opened to the wider community.

Over the three years participants reported a positive impact from the sessions on all aspects of their health. A significant number of patients surveyed stated that they thought these therapies should be available in hospital or the community as part of treatment.


Dr Faisil Sethi, Consultant Psychiatrist at the Maudsley Hospital, added: “The PICU is a challenging acute inpatient environment, and the project brought a new dimension to the patient and staff experience. It has been refreshing to see what true multidisciplinary care can look like, with the Whole Ward Project working in synergy with the nursing, medical and occupational therapy clinicians in the PICU.”

Responses from staff said the programme had improved the atmosphere on the ward, making it a calmer place to work and creating a space for reflection. Most staff members thought that complementary therapies should be available to patients as part of their treatment. 


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