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SJHH / Quality & Performance/ A Commitment to Transparency/ Violence Prevention/ Safewards


Safewards: Advancing Patient Care with Innovation and Compassion

Over the course of 40 weeks, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton is introducing a new model of care called Safewards within the Mental Health and Addiction Program to improve safety. This model is one of many initiatives St. Joe’s is prioritizing to prevent violence in the workplace and enhance patient safety. 

What is Safewards? 

Safewards is an internationally recognized program that engages both staff and patients in a positive and proactive way to reduce tension and conflict. The program has 10 interventions that can be implemented together or selectively based on each unit’s individual needs and culture.

Watch the videos below for more of an understanding of what Safewards is and how it is being implemented within St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton's Mental Health and Addiction Program (MHAP), including Psychiatric Emergency Services (PES).

Click the photo below to learn more about the 10 Safewards interventions.

Who is part of Safewards?  

St. Joe’s frontline staff are dedicated to providing a high-quality experience through respectful relationships to facilitate an open environment where all can feel safe.

Susanne Sferrazza-Swayze, a Registered Practical Nurse at St. Joe’s explains Safewards as;

An amazing project for many reasons, one of the main ones is due to the fact it can be tailored to fit each unit. Together, we can choose which interventions best fit our needs and adapt them to improve the quality of care and excel patient relationships. I knew this was a project that was right up my alley, and one that I really wanted to be a part of.”


Safewards interventions have been found to decrease conflict by up to 15%, which may include aggression, self-harm, rule breaking, and medication refusal. Safewards also reduces the need for staff to contain conflict by up to 24%, which may include the use of seclusion, restraints, forced medications, and increased observation.   

Implementation of the Safewards Model at St. Joe’s

St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton has made Safewards a top priority, to continue to be a leader in mental health and addiction services in our community. St. Joe’s has successfully begun implementing the Safewards program across all 15 mental health units, including Emergency Psychiatry Services.

"The implementation of Safewards at St Joe’s is so important to our goal of improving overall safety for our patients, visitors and our staff. We have taken a very purposeful and thoughtful approach in every unit as we are spreading the Safewards Program. The work we are undertaking to ensure strong supportive team relationships and strong supportive relationships with our patients has been foundational in our goal to directly reduce containment and aggression. The success and sustainability of Safewards is dependent on all of us from the Executive to each member of the unit team.  I am very appreciative of the time and investment of everyone working on our Safewards implementation."

- Winnie Doyle, Former Executive Vice-President, Clinical Services, Mental Health and Addictions and Chief Nursing Executive

Next steps

Safewards continues to be a corporate priority to preventing violence at St. Joe's. The expansion of this model and interventions to units in addition to the Mental Health and Addiction Program will assist in growing the success of Safewards across Ontario.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about Safewards at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton or how you can implement Safewards at your organization, please contact:

Diane Turner, Safewards Project Lead
Phone: 905-522-1155 Ext. 39989

Kelly Bulley, Safewards Project Lead
Phone: 905-522-1155 Ext. 39460

Diana Marginean, Safewards Project Lead
Phone: 905-522-1155 Ext. 36357