Ward round: what is it good for?

23 Dec

Yesterday, ward round suddenly popped into my mind. I don’t know why. Possibly it’s because I’ve recently been asked to complete a “trauma diary”, logging what triggers the flashbacks I get. Since they relate to my time on ward, this means I’m focussing on my ward experience more than I would usually do.

Whatever the reason for ward round being on my mind,  it reminded me of the original concept of the operating theatre: an arena in which the surgeon would theatrically perform for an audience of students and paying spectators.

In this tweet story, I describe my experience of ward round. There are then tweets from others sharing their experiences & suggestions. It’s quite descriptive. And all fairly negative.

Then today, the brilliant Marion Janner of Star Wards (@StarWards) tweeted me to shine a positive light on the issue, as is her way. She said that replacing out-dated ward rounds was top of the list at her new website, Wardipedia (“A world of ward knowledge”). Good news!

Based on her own inpatient experience, Janner is passionate about supporting mental health staff to create a positive and therapeutic environment for psychiatric patients. Her original Star Wards website (“Inspiring inpatient care”) was joined this year by a fantastic new resource for psychiatric staff, Wardipedia. Both provide endless resources & suggestions for free and low cost practical measures for improving the ward experience for staff and patients.

Take a look at this page of the Wardipedia website for an in-depth review of the flaws in the current ward round system and how it can be changed. The experience of Sandwell Park hospital in Hartlepool – which replaced ward rounds in 2006 – is given as a detailed example of how this can work in practice. Ward round can be abolished. And it has been.

As Marion summarised it to me:

Ward rounds throw ward schedules (eg activities) into chaos, distract staff, cause knock-on anger & anxiety among patients. Abolishing ward rounds is cost-free, totally positive way of improving inpatients’ experiences.

If you work on a ward where ward rounds still take place, this will give you food for thought; and perhaps a basis to suggest modernising the practice. And the same goes for patients and relatives. It’s not just you that finds the current ward round system idiotic and counter-therapeutic. But change is possible and Wardipedia shows the way.

Hopefully one day soon no one will be describing an experience of ward round like the one I described yesterday.

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