Sexual Safety Event 2021

Published: 12 July 2021 to 31 December 2098

On Wednesday 30th June, teams from across the Trust headed to our Miranda House site to host a Sexual Safety Event.

Unfortunately, due to Covid restrictions, attendance had to be limited and only people based at the site were able to attend in small groups, with social distancing adhered to at all times.

Nevertheless, the teams were excited to host this important event, with the aim to spread awareness of sexual safety for both patients and staff, and foster an environment in which people are encouraged to speak up when something isn’t right.

The event was made up of four key stands – a research stand, safeguarding stand, inpatient stand and moving forwards stand – each of these stands had a clear goal that they wanted to communicate with visitors to the event.

The stands were set up in a large room to allow for social distancing, and were in the form of a story, so that visitors could learn about how sexual safety came to be a strategy in clinical environments, what we’re doing about it as a Trust and the plans we have to continually improve, moving forwards.

Therefore the first stand that attendees would visit was the Research Stand. This was hosted by Haley Jackson, a Specialist Nurse who would present the history of the sexual safety movement, addressing how it came to be that we’re now looking at sexual safety and how she is a key player in the strategy development for sexual safety at our Trust.

Haley also spoke about how the CQC released a document in 2018, outlining concerns around sexual safety on inpatient wards. Since then, the CQC have included this in their new standards when carrying out unit inspections. It is therefore extremely important that staff not only understand sexual safety, but to demonstrate their ability to use this in their everyday work.

The second stand at the event was the Safeguarding Stand. This was hosted by Martin Inglis, whose aim was to spread key messages about the importance of safeguarding practices in our sexual safety strategy. This included main elements of safeguarding such as what to look for, how to use your observation skills and how to keep people safe on your ward by ‘making safeguarding personal’.

Martin also informed guests about the Mental Capacity Act and how to control treatment plans to ensure everyone is as safe as possible on our units, including our staff. This also helped to inform staff on what should be recorded on DATIX, with regards to sexual safety with patients and staff, and to understand that sexual safety can often mean things they may not have first associated with it, such as how it’s not always physical harm we need to look out for.

The Safeguarding Stand also offered a range of materials and signposted to beneficial self-referral options and other services in the area, to ensure that anyone who has experienced sexual assault, in any capacity, knows where they can go for support and to better understand the processes in which they can undertake.

The third stand was the Inpatient Stand, which was a PICU and Avondale collaborative, in which they shared the common goal of better understanding how sexual safety protocols can be prioritised in an inpatient environment.

Michelle Martin and Gemma Cheetham hosted this stand, showcasing the work done and data collected in the past year of prioritising sexual safety at work. This work encompasses what practices have changed and how staff and patient perceptions have changed alongside this. They highlighted how people feel about talking about sexual safety now, compared to a year ago, and how they’re more likely to report it correctly and speak up when they feel something is not right.

The stand also handed out leaflets and their charter, which was developed in collaboration with both staff and patients, to show the work they’re doing, what levels of respect are expected on our wards, and how people can get involved or speak up when this may not be the case. Their core aim was to foster an environment where people feel supported to speak about their experiences and to gather that feedback to further improve the services we provide.

As part of this data collection process, Michelle and Gemma noted that they feel that staff and patients both feel more comfortable speaking about sexual safety, but how there’s still work to be done, which leads us onto the last stand at the event, the Moving Forwards Stand, hosted by Amanda Spencer.

The Moving Forwards Stand aimed to outline how we can continue to improve our sexual safety processes at the Trust and the goals we want to achieve this over the next few years. Amanda spoke at length about the ideas she has and how we can develop a framework based around the trauma-informed care approach and how we can improve training specifically aimed at identifying and supporting sexual safety in inpatient units.

As part of this work, ongoing data collection will show the team where they can improve and what kind of experiences staff and patients have had so far. The core learning over the past year would be how staff now appreciate better what might be traumatic for some, may not be for others, and how sexual safety incorporates all of that, to better ensure that both our staff and patients are not taking on a negative mental load without the opportunity for support.

All in all, the event was a great success in promoting awareness for sexual safety and also showcasing the brilliant work our sexual safety teams have achieved in the last year. We look forward to seeing how this work evolves over time and what more can be done to keep everyone safe while at work and in our care.

Thank you to the teams involved for your dedication to this project and for hosting an important and informative event for our colleagues.

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