Mental health inpatients are being provided with new ways to reduce agitation in a project which it is hoped will reduce violence and aggression, and speed recovery times.

Four wards with more than 60 patients at the Bradgate Mental Health Unit, Leicester, will be provided with outdoor gym equipment, weighted blankets and other items that the patients will be able to make use of whenever they feel the need.

There will also be at least one quiet area created on each ward. Staff and professionals who visit the wards regularly will also be given special training on sensory systems and how these affect the individual’s mood.

The £82,000 cost is being met by a NHS England grant, topped up with a contribution from LPT’s charity, Raising Health.

The outdoor gyms will consist of fixed bikes, cross trainers, hammocks and garden swings. At the moment the only gym equipment for patients is in the Bradgate’s sole indoor gym, which can only be used with staff supervision.

The package also includes weighted blankets, which have been found to have a calming effect. There will also be “squeeze vests” which the wearer can pressurize when they are feeling anxious, and depressurize when they are feeling better.

Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust has already installed soft-closing doors, echo-free flooring and improved lighting at the Bradgate to improve the impact on patients’ senses.

Katie Crowfoot, an occupational therapy team leader at the Bradgate, said research elsewhere showed these measures should reduce self harm, lengths of stay, seclusion, and readmission rates.

“It is going to allow patients to be independent and autonomous, and feel a bit more in control of their recovery.

“Addressing the ward environment in this way should benefit everybody, but the evidence shows it should have a particularly positive effect for those who have autism, depression, schizophrenia or bipolar disorder.

“It should also allow staff to support the patients in a very different way.”

Carolyn Pascoe, Raising Health’s fundraising manager, said: “It is great to be able to help fund equipment and training which should make a positive impact on some very vulnerable patients.”

The project will be delivered over the next 12 months.