Patient Safety and Staff Safety: Why They are Intertwined

September 26, 2019
Two pairs of hands clasped together.

We sometimes go to conferences and events to promote our training programmes to hospitals, trusts and other organisations so we can show how what we offer can prevent workplace violence and its associated problems.

It’s inspiring to gather at events like these with so many committed professionals who are passionate about their work.

However, when we’re talking about our training programmes to attendees, we often hear: 

  •  “It’s costly, so I get a lot of pushback...”
  • “We don’t have the relevant department for that...”
  • “Oh, that? That’s Security’s responsibility.”

When we follow up comments to ask if they are familiar with the work CPI does, specifically in the area of safely managing violent and disruptive behaviour, we are often told that they agree there is a huge need.

It’s evident though that people think of ‘workplace violence’ differently and often the people we speak to don’t think the training is patient focused enough.

However, our programmes are patient focused. We show you how to prevent workplace violence so staff and patients stay safe.

The truth is that workplace violence occurs along a continuum and it’s crucial not to lose sight of the violence that nursing staff, security, and other hospital employees deal with daily.

That’s why at CPI, we talk about a continuum of workplace violence.

Continuum of Behaviours

Aggression, when it happens, occurs along a continuum of behaviours that may be present in any workplace on any given day. Sadly, many workplaces struggle with some of the behaviours you see toward the top of the continuum, like disrespect or harassment.

Other workplaces, by the nature of their services, are also at risk of behaviours like verbal assaults and physical aggression.

We have seen and heard story after story of behaviour that escalated to physical aggression; we have seen and heard story after story of how an individual, who was verbally assaulting someone, threatened the person and then followed through with aggression.

Organisations are committing resources to mitigate health and safety risks but we continually hear that it’s too costly to train staff to prevent workplace aggression or manage it as it occurs.

There may be things you can prevent using hardware or software, but largely, aggression reduction comes when you equip staff with the soft skills of awareness, verbal de-escalation, personal safety, debriefing strategies, and maybe physical intervention skills.

Training is a necessary step in reducing potential or actual aggression.  

So, the next time you ask for training funds and are told your organisation can’t afford it, we would encourage you to ask if your organisation can afford NOT to do it. Ask:

  • Can we afford to allow another head injury due to a patient assault?
  • Can we afford to manage the negative press when our organisation isn’t known for resolving conflict well?
  • Can we afford staff shortage because aggressive behaviours dishearten new staff?

The more staff are equipped to recognise the different levels of escalation that an agitated patient or visitor might present — and the more staff are equipped to safely defuse those escalating behaviours as soon as possible — the safer staff and patients can be.

It’s much easier to focus on high-quality care when you don’t have to worry so much about how to manage and negotiate the tricky waters of aggression in the workplace.

When your staff have that know-how, that's when you decrease liability and staff turnover — and increase patient satisfaction scores.

Equipping staff with the skills to recognise and respond to potential violence might not prevent every incident, but many organisations have significantly reduced the risks by investing in their staff. Some get injuries down to zero. Most decrease risk behaviours and physical restraint use.

Don’t hesitate to contact us if you’d like to do what so many others are doing in really driving a profound culture shift to make everyone measurably safer.

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