Safewards: a new model of conflict and containment on psychiatric wards


Rates of violence, self-harm, absconding and other incidents threatening patients and staff safety vary a great deal by hospital ward. Some wards have high rates, other low. The same goes for the actions of staff to prevent and contain such incidents, such as manual restraint, coerced medication, etc. The Safewards Model provides a simple and yet powerful explanation as to why these differences in rates occur. Six features of the inpatient psychiatric system have the capacity to give rise to flashpoints from which adverse incidents may follow. The Safewards Model makes it easy to generate ideas for changes that will make psychiatric wards safer for patients and staff. The PICU at Norbury House is one example of successful implementation of Safewards within an organization.


  • Accessible summary
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • The Safewards Model in simple form
  • The Safewards Model expanded
  • Original contributions by the Safewards Model
  • Implications for conflict and containment reduction 
  • Conclusion 
  • Acknowledgements
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Publication Date: 

Len Bowers presents the Safewards trial results, Melbourne, October 2013

On the importance of the Safewards Model