How to Combat 5 Health Care Violence Prevention Training Pitfalls


November 4, 2022

As you’ve likely experienced throughout your time in the health care field, there can be many challenges when it comes to initiating training across your facility.

First, it’s critical to understand what not to do when designating training, so that the prevention program will be beneficial to everyone completing it.

Let’s review five approaches that ultimately become pitfalls when initiating health care violence prevention training. And, see how to combat them to ensure successful facility-wide implementation. 

5 Health Care Violence Prevention Training Pitfalls

1. "One Size Fits All” Approach

Such great diversity in the health care industry means that there isn’t one training approach which will cover all entities. Training needs to look different, depending on who is taking it and who it’s being applied to. Assigning a single lesson to everyone in the organization is not a successful way to build a culture of violence prevention since training will need to be tailored to individual areas. Instead, creating some differentiation in your health care violence prevention training will make it more efficient and applicable to the differing areas that exist.

2. “Checking the Boxes” Approach

Organizations continue to evolve, technology continues to advance, and regulatory agencies continue to add requirements, and all these things mean more hours allocated to staff training. To meet all the necessary and growing demands, it is tempting to roll out violence prevention training purely to satisfy the regulatory requirements so staff can get back to doing their jobs. Although this approach may work for certain topics, this type of approach alone will never contribute to achieving a safe, violence-free workplace.

Health care violence prevention training requires a multifaceted approach to successfully mitigate it. A fuller approach to violence prevention ensures a culture of safety, and not just one of “checking a box.”

3. “More for Less” Approach

The expression, “You get what you pay for,” is an accurate statement when it comes to investing in staff education. Of course, health care leaders want their staff to be safe; however, the large cost of training is often difficult to swallow. Building a comprehensive culture of violence awareness and prevention requires a financial investment, as well as a commitment to prioritize workplace violence initiatives. Data shows that over time, the return on investment in workplace violence prevention training outweighs the costs, proving that value is relative to spend.

It benefits staff and patients alike, when staff become experts at recognizing escalating behaviors so they can communicate appropriately and build lasting rapport. It is also an opportunity for an organization to demonstrate their integrity, as it is also an investment in the overall patient experience. 

4. “One and Done” Approach

There is a certain irony in wanting staff to have the very best skills and techniques to be able to successfully manage upset individuals, all the while not wanting to allocate time for staff to be away from their daily tasks in order to develop those skills. It is critical for staff to be able to perform the job tasks that they were hired to do, so organizations need to afford them the opportunity to gain the skills needed to be successful in their jobs.

It is understood that staff’s time is a precious commodity, especially when considering that training time is considered “nonproductive” time. But a true commitment to the organization’s safety and well-being means allocating time toward continuous development and improvement.

Staff training becomes useless if there is not a plan to sustain the philosophy and skills learned. Training is a process, not a one-time event.

5. “Not It” Approach

In order to meet the expectations of governing agencies, it is natural to have a person assigned the responsibility to manage the workplace violence prevention program. But since a rich program requires the involvement of many different departments and job roles, no one singular person or department can “own” it. When responsibilities become stretched out over several areas, it is difficult to gain momentum, as each area has its own priorities.

It's also difficult to manage overall accountability for mitigating and eliminating violence when specific tasks become compartmentalized. When so many people own a piece of the puzzle, there can be a mentality that “Preventing violence isn’t my job. I only handle … (insert responsibility here).” This means there is a critical need to have a highly engaged executive leader who will champion this cause and emphasize the importance of accountability across all departments. Otherwise, when determining who is responsible for violence and safety, there will be a resounding, “Not it.”

Solutions for Each Health Care Violence Prevention Training Pitfall

CPI approached health care professionals and subject matter experts Kimberly Urbanek, system manager, administration and training of public safety, and Kyle Graham, clinical manager, child and youth mental health programs to develop the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook. The goal: to serve as a comprehensive resource to establish and build out the necessary components of a successful workplace violence (WPV) prevention program.

Detailed solutions for each of the pitfalls above are covered within The Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook, so that appropriate training can be developed and delivered.

Receive a Digital Copy of the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook

The areas of consideration discussed here are from the Workplace Violence Prevention Handbook, published by CPI and authored by health care professionals for health care professionals.

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