Independent evaluation of the Victorian Safewards trial
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We were invited to join the Centre for Psychiatric Nursing at the University of Melbourne in their independent evaluation of the trial of Safewards in Victoria. The Safewards model and its associated interventions are designed to reduce conflict and containment within mental health services by identifying and addressing the causes of behaviours in staff and consumers that may result in harm (e.g., violence, self-harm or absconding) and reduce the likelihood of this occurring.
The trial involved implementation of the model and 10 interventions in acute mental health inpatient services in seven health services across Victoria. The evaluation began with the development of a program logic that define the objectives of Safewards as it was implemented in the trial. A mixed method design and multiple data sources were used to determine whether these objectives were met. Data included Safewards fidelity measures based on observation by evaluators, several staff and consumer surveys, organisation-level diaries of project activity, and statewide data regarding seclusion events in all inpatient settings.
Where available, peer workers were engaged to assist and conduct online surveys with consumers during the inpatient stay to elicit feedback about their experience of Safewards and its acceptability and sustainability. The evaluation found that Safewards was associated with reduced seclusion events overall, with improvement especially evident in adult and youth wards. Also, Safewards had a favourable impact in terms of staff and consumer perceptions of increased safety and more positive inpatient environments.
Following the evaluation, Safewards and the associated interventions were rolled out in all acute mental health inpatient wards in health services across Victoria. The Centre for Psychiatric Nursing has been commissioned to conduct an evaluation of the broader roll-out, again with our support.
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