What a pleasure it was to spend a few hours yesterday delivering a webinar titled Create a Culture of Safety: How to Reduce Intimidation and Violence in Health Care Facilities
The purpose of the webinar was to inform attendees not only about CPI and our offerings, but also to deliver a few quick tips you can consider for managing crisis moments. In case you missed it, here are some of the strategies we discussed.
- Redirect or refocus challenging questions.
“How come it always takes so long for the doctor to see me?”
“Who’s going to make me?”
“Why do I have to do that?”
These questions can come quickly and are often followed by others that are even more challenging. While some questions are genuinely information-seeking in nature, others are meant to challenge your authority in a variety of ways. Those are the questions you feel yourself compelled to answer with “Because I said so.” But that’s a rather nonproductive answer. A very useful approach is to restate your request or your directive. Ignore the challenge, but not the person.
- Isolate venting individuals if possible.
Allowing an individual to vent is a great way to de-escalate the situation. We all want to have our say in the matter. Even if I don’t get my way, but I get my “say,” I’ll feel a whole lot better about a situation if I can release some of my frustration through words.
The trouble is that, in many settings, there are others around who could be frightened, disrupted, or bothered by venting. It’s also possible that bystanders will begin to feed into the venting or even egg it on.
Validate the importance of the issue or concern for the venting individual, but see if you can discuss the issue somewhere where there’s more privacy and fewer distractions. This will enable you to really focus on what the person is telling you—and it will help you find a solution to their concern.
- Use teamwork.
Sometimes a fresh face brings a fresh approach to a situation. If you find yourself caught up in a power struggle (it happens to us all), a great way out is to say, “You know what, I don’t think I’m being very helpful to you right now. Can I see if my colleague can help you?”
Let’s face it—we’ve all asked to “see the manager or supervisor,” and even if a second person gives you the same response to your issue or concern that the previous staff member did, it can often somehow become acceptable.
- Take all threats seriously and assess for their validity.
Threats come in a variety of nonverbal and verbal ways. The scary thing about threats (other than the threat itself sometimes) is that there is no way to predict who or when someone might follow through on a threat they’ve made. Make sure your organization has clear protocols for staff to follow in the event that a threat is made. Consider:
- Where the threat should be documented.
- Who it should be reported to.
- Who will gather to make a plan to respond in the event of follow-through.
Watch the webinar on demand.
- Take care of yourself.
The job of a health care worker, regardless of the setting, is stressful and at times dangerous. We must come to work mentally and physically prepared for our day. Find positive outlets for the negative energy that you have to absorb during your day so that you can stay in control of your own behaviors during a crisis moment.
On the larger continuum of workplace violence is also the issue of lateral violence. Stay tuned—I feel a post coming on about this topic! I’m a little tired of hearing how “nurses eat their young”. . .
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