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Psychiatric wards and good leadership

Marion Janner, over at the Bright Blog, does a great job of highlighting how good leadership – at all levels – can transform the quality of life for people in acute mental health wards and other psychiatric facilities. Check out her latest post on Wotton Lawn Hospital for an inspiring example.

Marion created the Star Wards programme, which offers acute wards a pack of practical transformational ideas for taking the lead in improving every aspect of life and work in a mental health ward. She then reports in her blog on examples of surprisingly good practice, to inspire others by showing them what can be achieved.

As with so much in healthcare, the differences in practice between some mental health acute wards where people are apparently left lethargic and sitting around versus wards where, as Marion describes in her most recent post, a particularly fragile looking patient was deeply engrossed in potting a seedling in a plastic cup as part of the nursery for the garden, is not down to resources, but to leadership, commitment to enriching people’s lives, imagination and a willingness to improvise and engage.

I’m a great admirer of Marion’s work as she is a powerful example of how to lead change when you may not be the technical ‘leader’ in an organization. She is an outside-in change agent who inspires organizations to change for the better without actually being part of their leadership hierarchy. Which is exactly as it should be today. There shouldn’t be a leadership hierarchy in any organization; just catalysts for change at all levels and a readiness at all levels to listen to their good advice and let people take the initiative by sharing ideas to lead change.

See the Customer Blog for a nice example Marion quotes about the power of improvisation when dealing with customers – in this case acute mental health patients – involving a paper plate and a bit of imagination on the part of a member of staff.

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