Improving the culture of care

The collective ambition across the mental health sector is for all services to foster a culture where everybody; patients and staff, can flourish. Frontline staff, people and families have articulated the need to ‘re-set’ the culture of mental health inpatient services.

To support this ambition, over 100 front line staff, people and families, academics, system leaders, providers, and stakeholders have developed a set of standards which articulate the culture of care the sector wants to achieve across inpatient services now and in the future model.

Culture of care standards

The mental health sector has worked together to develop a collective vision for the culture of care we want across our inpatient services in the format of 12 core commitments and associated standards.

Culture of Care Improvement programme

Many front-line staff, providers and people and families and academics have identified the barriers which can prevent the culture of care everyone wants to see from being realised; this is what the improvement programme will focus on. We have learned from previous national improvement work in this sector that using a quality improvement methodology can support teams to overcome such barriers and achieve culture change and do so in a systematic, consistent and sustained way.

A culture change improvement programme has been established as a universal support offer for 60 providers of NHS commissioned mental health, learning disability and autism inpatient services.

The Culture Change Improvement programme launched in January 2024 and over the next two years (to March 2026) will deliver six interventions to 60 providers across England.

The intended impact of the Culture Change Improvement programme is improved patient experience (as measured by patient reported experience measures), a reduction in restrictive practice and improved staff experience (measured through staff survey results). We know that achieving a positive workplace culture has benefits for employee engagement and performance, staff retention and patient outcomes.

Culture of care deliverables

  • re-set the purpose of inpatient care as therapeutic and safe as experienced by the person​
  • co-produce the standards for safe therapeutic inpatient care which is trauma-informed, autism-informed and equality-focused​
  • deliver a programme of support which includes a focus on leadership and considers ‘ward to board’ requirements to generate cultural change alongside broader workforce development and learning networks​
  • co-produce inpatient roles that enable and sustain therapeutic inpatient care, building on good practice where it exists, and reducing administrative burden

Publications and useful resources