Get an inside look at Arizona State Hospital’s success in building an org-wide, coordinated culture of care.

In 2013, Arizona State Hospital (ASH) committed to establishing an intentionally coordinated culture of care. “This culture of care creates a better therapeutic environment for patients and residents to live [in] and improves safety for everyone,” said Arizona Department of Health Services director Will Humble. “We’ve trained more than 700 staff in Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® [training] . . . that’s allowed us to focus on staffing direct patient care and overall hospital safety.” The outcomes included:
  • A measurable reduction in risk and injury with a safer environment of care
  • Improved staff dynamics, including more strategic scheduling and better debriefing processes
  • Better patient/staff ratios and improved focus on direct patient care
Master Level CPI Certified Instructor and behavioral health intervention specialist D.C. Foster has been on the front lines of ASH’s efforts to evolve their environment of care. With more than 30 years of experience in the direct care setting, he’s eager to share with decision makers and care partners alike that a culture of caring is well within reach.

“How will professionals 25 to 30 years from now think about us and our present practices?”

Regular readers of the CPI blog are familiar with D.C. Foster’s practical, positive approach to crisis prevention—he’s the Certified Instructor who famously asked, “Would you rather be a firefighter, or a fire preventionist?”
He’s also routinely challenged professionals to consider the small stuff that ladders up to measurable culture change—choices as simple as how we speak and interact with others not only paves the way for crisis prevention, but over time, builds a caring and more supportive environment in which staff feel more empowered, and care populations access their best potential to thrive.
In this interview with Unrestrained host Terry Vittone, Foster takes listeners through these practical concepts, and demonstrates how they lead to profound results—even in some of the most challenging care environments. You’ll learn:
  • Verbal techniques for crisis prevention and safe de-escalation
  • Rapport-building practices to establish trust and safety in high-risk care settings
  • Trauma-informed perspectives that keep everybody safer
A self-described idealist, Foster points out that particularly in the field of behavioral health, such strides have been made in care delivery that care practices of even 25 or 30 years ago can feel archaic and even barbaric at times. But there’s still more to be done. “How will people 25 to 30 years from now see us? What will they think and say about us and our present practices?”
He pushes the question even further—when his team is in debriefing mode after a crisis event, he wants them to consider: “Did this have to happen?”

Dive deeper—take D.C. Foster’s insights and see firsthand how they’re applied in real crisis situations.

If you loved this interview, you won’t want to miss this set of five de-escalation tales from D.C. Foster and four of his fellow Certified Instructors from across North America. You’ll get to see how a nonviolent, supportive approach brought chaos to calm in five strikingly different crisis situations, and you’ll learn how to make the connection between the evidence-based best practices of CPI training and the inspiring outcomes that they can unlock in real life.
And don’t forget to subscribe to Unrestrained, a CPI podcast, wherever you get your podcasts. We’re having more great conversations than ever—you can’t afford to miss an episode.
“Any time you put your hands on an individual, the potential for escalation of behavior increases greatly." -D.C. Foster, Behavior Health #Intervention Specialist, Arizona State Hospital #DeEscalation
With over 30 years of experience at the Arizona State Hospital in Phoenix, D.C. Foster is a behavioral health intervention specialist and Master Level CPI Instructor. D.C. works with individuals identified as Serious Mental Illness (SMI), and Sexually Violent Persons (SVP). Since 2012, he has been using CPI training to create a more person-centered, trauma-informed, recovery-oriented therapeutic environment for patients. D.C. is also a leading member in the CPI Instructor Community, where he exchanges training strategies and professional development techniques with his fellow Instructors.