Region Ten Celebrates "Earthshaking" Training Implementation

May 23, 2012
A woman talking to another woman and writing something in a notebook.

While many Instructors have to worry about training distractions such as cell phones or people entering the training area, Missy Rand, LPC, CSAC rolled right along with one rather large disruption: a 5.8 magnitude earthquake.

Central Virginia had not experienced an earthquake of that magnitude in more than 100 years. Rand, director of training for Region Ten Community Services Board, located in and around Charlottesville, VA, was in the middle of a Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® training program when the trembler struck. After taking a break to ensure that her training area was safe for her participants, Rand continued with the training, and now uses her rattling experience as an example in her trainings.

“I use examples from the earthquake to help explain how long it might take for someone to calm down and reach Tension Reduction,” she said. “It also has applications in the Staff Fear and Anxiety unit as well.”

Rand says the real earthshaking change came as Region Ten completed its first year of implementation of the Nonviolent Crisis Intervention® program. “The CPI approach differs from what we previously employed in a behavioral crisis in that this literally took them off their heels,” said Rand, noting that some participants were skeptical at first, but changed their minds by the end of the session.

The Region Ten Community Services Board covers a wide area in central Virginia, providing services in more than 45 different locations for consumers with intellectual disabilities, mental health problems, and substance-use disorders.

Rand and her fellow Instructors at Region Ten recently celebrated the fact that they were able to roll 48 training sessions out to their entire organization over the course of the past nine months.

In recognition of the accomplishment, Rand held a special lunch for the team, where they discussed the lessons they had learned from the first year of implementation. To congratulate and thank the Instructors, Rand presented them with CPI polo shirts.

In addition to Rand, the Region Ten CPI Instruction Team consist of Certified Instructors Lisa Hearl, Michael Leemann, and Joe Ray, with administrative support from Liz Nordquist.

Some of the lessons learned included that sometimes accommodations were needed for staff with physical limitations. The trainers also noted that not everyone passed the written test on the first try, and that providing flexible testing options for individuals with test anxiety was helpful. Additional tactics were identified allowing individuals to take the manual home for review overnight prior to testing, and delivering the test questions orally.

Another lesson learned had more to do with scheduling the trainings across the agency. Initially, Rand hoped to schedule entire teams for a single day of training, but facilities would have had to shut services down for an entire day, leaving consumers without services. So Region Ten arranged interdisciplinary training groups. The mix of professionals from across all the service-provider locations permitted consumer-related services to continue uninterrupted and addressed staff scheduling burdens within teams.

Rand found that not only was scheduling better for the individual teams, but having staff from the different services helped break down silos, allowing participants to see that the concepts in the training are applicable across a wide range of settings. Forty-eight training days and 502 certified staff later, Region Ten CPI Instructors are now turning their sights toward designing yearly refresher courses and providing boosters between trainings.

“Ultimately, we hope to see a reduction in the number of incidents of going “hands-on” with consumers experiencing a behavioral health crises as a result of implementing CPI,” Rand said. “We should have comparative data to report to our leadership team and board of directors July 2013.”

Region Ten staff evaluations demonstrated good efficacy for the interactive training approach, confidence in the trainers and individual abilities to utilize the training, and applicability to the wide variety of work settings across the agency. An additional outcome was bringing together a workgroup to improve expectations for staff working in school settings, clarifying roles, and developing a targeted training for staff in these pre-K-12 jobs.

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