Safe, Supportive and Therapeutic Care

The journey –

Safe, Supportive and Therapeutic Care aimed to improve safety and care within acute inpatient mental health units; to minimise risk while maximising therapeutic benefit. A secondary but related objective was to reduce length of stay in acute inpatient units.

Strands of work covered three key areas: clinical skills and interventions; policies, procedures and systems; and environmental security. Specific activities included a thorough review of clinical evidence and of policy and procedures; staff training and a ligature audit to identify and remove any environmental elements contributing to increased risk of patient suicide.



The programme has achieved a wide range of improvements, including better clinical risk assessment and collaborative and patient focused care plans. Each acute inpatient environment has been assessed using an accredited ligature audit tool with high risk ligature points being addressed first and processes identified to modify medium and low risk points.

The programme has created a stronger identity and culture within Acute Care, as well as greater clarity among the different professions (psychology, nursing, occupational therapy and medical) about their role and contribution to providing high quality care.  There is now greater consistency of care across acute units and the programme has also achieved its overarching aim, which was to minimise risk while maximising the therapeutic benefit of inpatient care.


Patient setting

In-patienta Out-patient Community based
Mental health   X Chronic illness Cross-systems


Clinical area

Staying healthy Maternity and newborn Children and young people Acute care   X
Planned care Mental health   X Long-term conditions End of life


Information, tools and techniques used

Whilst some general principles of change management underpinned the programme, it did not follow a formal change model. Different change management processes included a ligature audit which used a validated tool to assess environments as well as consulting nationally in order to learn from good practice elsewhere. The review of risk policy, training and redesign of risk tools was informed by a full consultation within the trust.



The programme was run across the six acute inpatient units and six crisis teams working in the community across the Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.



The programme was initiated in March 2010, and by April 2012 most of its key elements had been implemented.


Contact details and further information

Theresa Dorey, Nurse Consultant/Professional Lead, Acute Care.


Posted on Jan 16th, Cat: , , , Tags: , Comments: Comments are off for this post

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