Department of Health

Safewards – a model for reducing conflict

Key messages

  • Safewards is a clinical model to promote safer, less coercive practices in mental health care, and to reduce conflict.
  • Safewards is being trialled in several services across Victoria.
  • The Safewards trial will be formally evaluated.

Safewards is a clinical model developed in the UK to promote safer, less coercive practices in mental health care, and to reduce incidents of conflict involving consumers or staff.

The model attempts to identify and address the causes of behaviours in mental health settings that may result in harm – such as violence, self-harm or absconding – and to reduce the likelihood of these behaviours occurring.

The Safewards model describes how inherent features of mental health services can create potential ‘flashpoints’, or situations where conflict could arise. It focuses on how staff can act to prevent such flashpoints, and to manage and influence conflict in instances where it does arise.

Safewards in Victoria

Safewards is being trialled in several services across Victoria as part of the statewide Reducing Restrictive Interventions (RRI) initiative. The trial will seek to determine the appropriateness of Safewards for the Victorian policy and service delivery context.

The Safewards trial will be formally evaluated to identify the impact of the model on the use of restrictive practices, particularly on rates of seclusion and restraint, based on the premise that decreases in rates of conflict in services will, in turn, reduce rates in the use of restrictive interventions. The outcomes of the evaluation will be used to inform any future implementation of Safewards across Victoria.

Reviewed 29 May 2015

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