5 Boroughs Partnership Trust is taking a lead in ensuring that service users, carers and their relatives are given information about the facilities they can expect on wards. This takes the form of an information folder containing an information leaflet, ward-specific fact sheet and DVD.

The information leaflet outlines how the trust provides care in mixed-sex accommodation and the ward specific sheet gives information about facilities on each ward such as sleeping arrangements, bathing and toilet facilities.

The DVD, which includes a version with subtitles and a version with a British sign language signer, has been successful in addressing the issues around privacy and dignity on a mixed-sex mental health or learning disability ward, especially for those who are unable to read or do not wish to ask staff. 

Packs are given to service users and carers before or on admission to one of the trust’s mixed-sex wards and have also been issued to local support groups.

The project was supported with funding from NHS North West’s Challenge Fund, which supports schemes linked to single-sex accommodation.

Head of nursing and trust lead on privacy and dignity Joanne McDonnell said: “It can be quite daunting coming onto a ward, not just for service users but for family and friends too. This information is attractive, informative and can be given to people to look at in their own time and to support the information staff give. It helps make an unfamiliar environment seem much less scary.”

The trust involved service users, carers, ward staff and representatives from local support groups and charities throughout the planning and development of the information packs and DVD.

Service users, staff and carers have been very positive about the information, which is attractive and easy to read and understand. 

A volunteer who was involved with the development of the packs said: “You can see what the bedrooms and bathrooms will look like. Seeing them on film makes a real difference.” Another said: “People may be embarrassed to ask questions. The packs are a succinct way of allaying fears and the DVD points well to the leaflets for more information.”

The packs provide a prompt for service users to ask questions about their care, a staff member said: “The packs are a great tool to help us to answer questions that service users and particularly their carers have. It acts as a good tool to begin discussions and prompt questions.”

Staff are also using the packs as a training tool and reference around privacy and dignity and same-sex accommodation issues.

The project has raised the profile of privacy and dignity issues across the trust, inspiring staff to consider single-sex care and resulted in improved care for service users on mixed-sex wards. 

The packs have been recognised by NHS North West and have been submitted to the Department of Health to be used an example of good practice in the field of privacy and dignity.