Winner: A nurse consultant has reduced violence and aggression on an older people’s mental health ward by creating a more homely environment.

Geraldine Rodgers.  Picture credit: Nathan Clarke

The ward at Goodmayes Hospital in Ilford, Essex had a high proportion of patients with dementia, who were exhibiting increased disorientation and anxiety. Only 29% stated they felt ‘extremely safe’.

Having asked patients through use of focus groups for their views on what would look and feel better, nurse consultant Geraldine Rodgers addressed signage, and changed the colour of doors to make the ward appear less institutionalised.

An indoor sensory garden for one-to-one interactions was created. The corridor leading to the room was themed – and scented – in lavender to suggest entry to a place of calm.

A change of colour for a toilet door had an immediate effect, with four patients becoming independent at toileting within 12 hours. The dining room is now treated as a social area where patients like to sit and chat.

The impact has been impressive – incidence of physical aggression has fallen by 40% and verbal aggression by 59%. Antipsychotic prescribing is down 26% and 64% of patients now say they feel ‘extremely safe’.

Geraldine Rodgers with a patient.  Picture credit: Nathan Clarke

Staff have embraced the project, with their sickness absence reduced by 64%. Lower agency spend has funded the project and saved £10,000 to date.

Geraldine, who works for North East London NHS Foundation Trust, is a finalist in the Hallmark Care Homes-sponsored Nursing Older People category of the RCNi Nurse Awards 2016.

She says: ‘I feel honoured to be a finalist in such a prestigious award. It is a real privilege to be shortlisted in this category, as my career to date has always focused on the older person.

‘My project has demonstrated that enhancement of the therapeutic environment on a ward has a positive impact on patients and staff.

‘There has been validated improvement to the patient experience, and positive outcomes such as patients feeling safe on the ward, patients having greater confidence in staff and improved staff morale.’

About the sponsor

Hallmark Care Homes

Hallmark Care Homes

Hallmark Care Homes is one of the leading providers of high quality, relationship-centred care, with 15 beautifully furnished care homes across England and Wales. They are dedicated to providing quality environments and high standards of care, which enable residents to live life to the full. Hallmark Care Homes employ outstanding nurses that play a vital part in their care delivery. They provide exceptional career pathways for nurses from graduation through to senior managers, which include clinical and leadership programmes. If you’re thinking of a career move, give Hallmark Care Homes a call on 01277 314191 or visit

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