19 July 2018

Celebrating Violence Reduction in Forensic Services

A celebration event took place in Forensics on 16 July to mark two years of successful work on Violence Reduction within the service. Watch this space for more details about this work! Words by Michelle Rigozzi, Improvement Advisor.

Michelle Rigozzi – Improvement Advisor

Over sixty people attended the Violence Reduction celebration event on 16th July, including ward staff, service users, executive team members and external partners such as NELFT and CNWL.  As a collaborative, Forensics saw an 8% in physical violence and a 16.6% reduction in non-physical violence incidents by week per 1000 occupied bed days.

Change in Culture

What really stood out was the culture shift towards collaborative working with our service users, building a real sense of community and staff and service users taking ownership in tackling violence.  It was a fantastic opportunity to hear the personal stories and impact shared by staff and service users from each ward as a result of the violence reduction work, and seeing their individual reductions.

Day Njovana, Head of  Nursing for Forensics. presenting at the celebration event.

A service user rightly summarised it in her own words: “It is very important to reduce violence because it is not tolerated. We want to be respected.  Staff respect us and we respect staff, so we don’t discriminate.” More details on this work, including a short film of these stories, will be available at the Forensics Quality Improvement page soon, stay tuned!

Whilst Forensics have successfully moved to talking openly about risk and physical violence and how they can manage it, for various reasons sexual aggression and violence incidents are still rarely talked about in the services.  This is a very real and prevalent issue for staff as sexual violence and unwanted sexual attention can be demeaning and a source of stress and fear. This is going to be the next step for Forensics.

A Rash of Purple Dots

At the event, many dressed in purple to represent a key innovation in Forensics: putting purple dots on the safety cross to record incidents of sexual aggression and violence.  This is a way to encourage frank discussions about this very real and challenging subject.  The use of the purple dots has spread across Forensic wards.  Reports of further innovation across the wards was inspiring, including successful service user-led safety huddles and collaborative care plans.  Artworks representing what the violence work had meant to each ward were displayed around the room during the event.

Keeping Momentum Going

The project teams are now looking at how to keep gains in the long term, that are resilient to changes such as different staff on the ward.  A new wave of work is also considering how violence can be reduced through reducing restrictive practices.

The day had the buzz of real achievement and investment from the participating staff and service users.  A staff member said: “We are proud of the safe space that has been created on the ward, where everyone can be supported and feel comfortable to talk about their distress after the incident

Another said: “We are proud that it is a collective, MDT- owned response…and the future is great because we have decided as a team that this must continue”.

Forensic services forms part of the scale up and spread of violence reduction work started in Tower Hamlets in 2014-15.

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