Objective: Our aim was to assess the impact of creating a female-only area within a mixed-gender inpatient psychiatry service, on female patient safety and experience of care.
Method: The Alfred hospital reconfigured one of its two psychiatry wards to include a female-only area. Documented incidents compromising the safety of women on each ward in the 6 months following the refurbishment were compared. Further, a questionnaire assessing perceived safety and experience of care was administered to female inpatients on both wards, and staff feedback was also obtained.
Results: The occurrence of documented incidents compromising females' safety was found to be significantly lower on the ward containing a female-only area. Women staying on this ward rated their perceived safety and experience of care significantly more positively than women staying where no such gender segregation was available. Further, the female-only area was identified by the majority of surveyed staff to provide a safer environment for female patients.
Conclusions: Establishing female-only areas in psychiatry wards is an effective way to improve the safety and experience of care for female patients.
Keywords: female-only; gender safety; gender-segregated model; mixed-gender; ward safety.
© The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists 2014.