Older people's mental health wards in Wales to receive extra funding for social activities

Report published by the Welsh assembly following spot checks of older people's mental health wards said more activities are required for service users' wellbeing

Mental health wards for older people in Wales should provide more social activities to improve service users’ wellbeing and free up nursing time.

A report by a 15-strong team of nurses and other healthcare professionals who conducted 22 spot checks of wards last year, says some organisations need to arrange more activities such as hairdressing, choir concerts and chaplain visits to stimulate patients' social engagement.

Health minister Mark Drakeford asked for the spot checks, which focused on fundamental aspects of care including nutrition and use of restraint, after poor care was revealed last year at the Princess of Wales and Neath Port Talbot hospitals.

Professor Drakeford promised £5 million would be invested annually in psychiatric liaison services to ensure activities are available on older people’s mental health wards.

He said: ‘These spot checks have provided us with assurance that poor care and neglect are not systemic features in the care of elderly mental health patients in Wales. They also highlight compassionate care by staff. However, the report does acknowledge there is room for improvement.’

RCN Wales associate director David Wallace said: ‘Service users need activities like everyone else because these are part of daily living. We take it for granted that we can go home, read a book or watch the television, but older people need help with these sorts of activities. If you don’t provide them then service users may be more likely to start wandering.

'Activities could be things like talking about the news, reminiscing with a photograph album or playing cards. If hospitals have volunteers they can do some of this, and it can help nurses to focus on things like medication rounds. Some of the errors in medication rounds come because nurses are interrupted, so if service users are occupied with activities, the likelihood of these errors goes down.’

To read the report click here


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