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.