Talking underwater with a mouth full of marbles

Lisa Spong1, Rachel Gwyther1
1DHHS, Melbourne, Australia

Commencing in October 2016 the Victorian Safewards Project Team have been offering support and training to the Mental Health Services across the State. Along this journey we have learnt about the challenges and opportunities of the implementation of the Safewards model. We have had the privilege of witnessing good leadership and are now preparing for the ongoing commitment to sustainability. This presentation will explore the key ingredients we feel are necessary for successful embedding of Safewards into practice. Building on themes from the Victorian trial conducted in 2016, the evaluation indicated the key elements of people, knowledge, and functional support (Hamilton, Fletcher, Sands, Roper, Elsom 2016), we will share our understanding of how services have progressed during this current phase. We will discuss the engagement process involving the delivery of training and resources, building supportive relationships, and sharing expertise and passion. As we near the end of this journey we have a unique opportunity to reflect on the impact Safewards has and will continue to have for consumers of mental health services.
The Safewards model is derived from extensive research into episodes of conflict (anything that could lead to harm for the patient, other patients or staff) and containment (restrictive interventions used by staff to prevent conflict or minimise harmful outcomes) on acute adult inpatient units.
The explanatory model helps examine the common flashpoints (an event that could precede conflict), ways for patients and staff to influence the situation that can lead to conflict and/or containment. Safewards aims to improve safety for both patients and staff, with a focus on reducing conflict and containment, identifying opportunities for people to prevent conflict and containment, or reduce its impact with practical interventions.


Lisa Spong, Senior Project Officer, Office of the Chief Mental Health Nurse, Department of Health and Human Services
Lisa Spong is a Senior Project Officer in the Safewards Victoria team in the Office of the Chief Mental Health Nurse, DHHS, Victoria and also works at Bendigo Health as the Reducing Restrictive Interventions (RRI) Coordinator.

Rachel Gwyther, Senior Project Officer, Office of the Chief Mental Health Nurse, Department of Health and Human Services
Rachel Gwyther qualified as a registered mental health nurse in the UK. Since coming to Australia Rachel has worked in an acute inpatient setting as a nurse, clinical nurse specialist and educator. She is a senior project officer in the Victorian Safewards team. Rachel is passionate about reducing restrictive interventions and workforce development.


TERP focuses on identifying, avoiding and reducing harm across all environments in which the care of people with mental ill health is provided. TERP inforces Australia’s commitment to reduce the use of, and eliminate restrictive practices as a priority for action. Each jurisdiction, in conjunction with the Safety and Quality Partnership Standing Committee and the Commonwealth Government, works towards this vision by holding a series of forums providing an opportunity to learn and grow from local and national initiatives to eliminate restrictive practices and create a dialogue for future care.

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