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Psychology graduates on mental health wards

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Feedback from patients and staff in acute mental health wards show a lack of activities for inpatients.

This does not aid recovery. And it might serve to increase levels of agitation and aggression on the ward. This puts extra pressures on staff.

Research has demonstrated the positive benefits of attending inpatient group sessions. They can:

  • speed up discharge
  • reduce readmission
  • improve adherence to therapy after discharge
  • reduce the severity of symptoms
  • reduce incidents of violence and aggression on the ward

Existing staff often do not have enough time, resources, training or competence to run new activities.

Several psychology graduates were applying for HCA roles on acute units. So Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust created a band 4 psychology graduate HCA role for each of the wards. As well as regular HCA roles, they were also expected to carry out weekly group interventions. The main aims were to:

  • increase the amount of therapeutic activity on the acute mental health wards
  • provide evidence-based psychologically informed group interventions


The trust reviewed the programme after 6 months. The graduates had provided frequent, well attended and well received psychologically informed groups on the acute wards. There was a good correlation between group attendance and overall satisfaction with care.

There was a rise of over 40% attending a mental health related group. Alongside this there was a call from respondents for more clinically relevant groups. This showed the groups brought people a stronger understanding of what they need to assist their recovery. This is positive for the wards as well as ongoing treatment pathways. These positive group experiences on the wards may encourage people to continue treatment at groups in the community.

Though the staff data is small, the roles have been well received on wards. Up to a third of patients on the ward engaged in these meaningful therapeutic activities. As a result, the general feeling on the ward was calmer. The content of the group activities being clinically relevant can only add to the therapeutic impact of admission.

Last updated:
26 June 2019