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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness


AIMS-WA: Standards for Acute Inpatient Wards for Working-Age Adults, 6th Edition (please note this document has been updated as of 28th September 2017)

AIMS-AT: Standards for Assessment/Triage Wards for Working-Age Adults, 5th Edition


Our Standards

We believe that it is important that our standards reflect the issues which make a difference to the experience of the person using the service. 


For this reason, the standards follow the patient pathway through care and how the service interfaces with other services.


As far as possible, standards are written from the service user perspective, with an emphasis on a purposeful admission.

Meeting national requirements

We recognise that services are under increased pressure to demonstrate that they comply with national policies and guidelines. 


For this reason our standards incorporate requirements and recommendations set out nationally. 


This means that the process of accreditation will enable your service to demonstrate where it is currently meeting national requirements and will support the service to meet them where it is not currently.


The standards are aligned with:

  • Department of Health Policy Implementation Guides;
  • the findings of the Confidential Inquiry into Suicide and Homicide;
  • NICE guidance;
  • recommendations by NHS Estates and the Royal College of Psychiatrists about ward design;
  • the National Patient Safety Agency’s Safer Wards for Acute Psychiatry Initiative;
  • recommendations arising from the National Audit of Violence.

Reflecting the views of those in the field

We know that people working in the field have the best understanding of the issues and challenges that they face in providing high quality care. 


The standards that we use are underpinned by a core set of values developed by our expert advisory groups, and have been refined in consultation with front-line staff, patients, carers, other interested groups such as national charities and professional bodies.

Keeping up-to-date

We review the standards each year to ensure that they continue to reflect developments in policy and practice and any issues identified through the accreditation process.


What the standards cover

The standards cover five domains:

  • General Standards, including policies, protocols and staffing related issues;
  • Timely and Purposeful Admission;
  • Safety;
  • Environment and Facilities;
  • Therapies and Activities.

The complete set of standards is aspirational; we do not expect services to meet every standard, and services can still be accredited without meeting all the standards.


How we measure performance against the standards

We recognise that wards are diverse and that, for example, high quality care does not necessarily require a new purpose-built ward.  Therefore, services are categorised against each standard at one of three levels:


Level 1: failure to meet these standards could result in a significant threat to the safety, rights or dignity of service users and/or would breach the law.  These standards must be met for a ward to be accredited;


Level 2: standards that an accredited ward would be expected to meet;


Level 3: standards that an excellent ward should meet or standards that are not the direct responsibility of the ward.



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