Issue 31

For the special 10th year Anniversary Issue we asked some members of staff who have seen the changes at Caswell to share some of their stories with us.  Here is ....Sharon's response

Newton Ward and Women's Service

What challenges were overcome in establishing Newton as a women's ward?

The challenge was to turn the mixed gender acute admission ward into a female only ward. Preparation for this had been happening for a little while before I moved across to Newton Ward, the seven women there and the three women that were on Ogmore ward (where I was the Manager) had been consulted about their views about living in a single sex ward. The views from both patients and staff were split with positives and negatives for a separate women's service. The decision was eventually decided following recommendations from best practice into how to care for women in medium secure services. I moved from Ogmore ward in July 2007 to take over Newton ward.

A plan was put in place to decommission seven male beds so that would allow for some changes to the ward lay out as we wanted to create a high dependency area that was within the ward so we could care for women at all stages of their illness ranging from intensive care nursing through to recovery and discharge planning. To do this meant that we would also lose two bedrooms and Newton became and 11 bedded ward. The next stage was the design, fixtures and fittings that would be appropriate, a time table agreed to bring the changes in on time so that new admissions could begin. This was my first experience of working with planners and designers in the NHS so this was definitely a learning experience and an interesting one. Alongside this I was working to establish a team of nurses with a special interest in working in the women's service. Once the team was established we developed the ward policies and procedures, which also needed to change and evolve as the ward became established and the patient group changed.

What would you consider to be Newton's greatest achievements?

I am proud of so much that the ward has achieved. Firstly, working with only one dedicated clinical team and nursing team, as this was the first time this had happened in the clinic. There were some initial teething problems but it proved very successful having the same staff invested in the ward and being so readily available to the women and the nursing staff was key to establishing the relational security and building such good therapeutic relationships. The ward staff, with the support of the clinical team allowed for the ward to work differently and for nursing staff to have greater autonomy in collaboration with the female patients we were caring for. The ward embraced the use of flexible observations and for a significant period on Newton the use of these worked remarkably well. The teamwork and patient-centeredness that came from both the nursing team and clinical team was at times inspirational, as was staff dedication to the service.

Weekly community meetings were established from the very beginning and were embedded in the culture on the ward as they now are everywhere in Caswell. This is also something that I am proud of and Joanne Sullivan and I who normally facilitated them always looked forward to them.


During my time on Newton ward as a group of patients and staff we were always very keen on fund raising and have raised money for ward items but also for Children in Need every year, Comic Relief and Macmillan Cancer Care. During the fundraising the commitment and spirit of wanting to do well for these charities helped with therapeutic relationships and created a positive feeling across the ward.

As a nurse working as part of the ward team you experienced working through the whole process of admission through to discharge. This experience, the ward's high expectations and standards it set itself, allowed for many staff to develop professionally, in influence care, colleagues , and also to achieve promotion as the patient and staff group learnt from each other as the service developed.

What were the challenges of Managing Admissions?

Most people won't realise, but Newton ward is the only NHS provider of female medium secure beds in Wales. The ward has to try and plan its admissions around the current inpatient group and their ongoing clinical needs and balance that against the potential needs of its future admissions. This was always done in the women's service development meetings and we tried to be mindful of who we admitted into the service and had to look at how the individual admission would impact on the current inpatient group. This was and still is difficult, as having to look after women on one ward through the whole range of their treatment needs is incredibly challenging for staff. It is also very difficult for the women living in this type of environment who at times can be at such different stages of their recovery journeys.

What will you miss?

I will miss the laughter, the tears, the smiles, the patients, the staff, working with only one clinical team, the singing, the smell of perfume, the nagging and the being nagged! (This is a joke – those of you who have worked with me or been nursed by me know – I don't nag, we encourage and motivate!).

It has been a pleasure to work with every single member of staff past and present on Newton ward, I learnt so much from you all. It was also a privilege to work with the women, who trusted me with their care.

Looking forward....

I am pleased to have the opportunity to be working back on Ogmore ward; I have been made to feel welcome by the nursing team and the gentlemen of the ward. I hope that we can continue to improve on the good work and care that I have already witnessed and am very enthusiastic about involving patients in their recovery and creating an environment of care that is patient-led and that allows patients a voice and as much autonomy as possible along their recovery pathway.