Workplace Violence: Finding Effective Training

Maintaining a security presence is part of the solution, but managers also need to select a program that meets organizations’ needs.

By AlGene Caraulia, Contributing Writer

Workplace violence is on the rise in healthcare facilities. To address the issue, organizations must ensure the safety and well-being of staff. While maintaining a security presence can be part of the solution, healthcare facilities managers also need to develop effective training programs and, just as important, select a program that meets the unique needs of their organizations. 

When selecting an effective de-escalation training program for healthcare staff, managers must consider the unique demands of healthcare environments. Varied schedules, demanding workloads, different job responsibilities and different cultural competencies all should be considered when searching for a program that suits the needs of an organization. These guidelines can help managers assess de-escalation training programs: 

Working with staff schedules. Consider the way the training program can accommodate demanding staff schedules within a healthcare setting. Since healthcare professionals often work irregular hours, training that is accessible online, on demand and in shorter timeframes – 30 minutes or less – can create flexibility and increase participation. 

Tiered levels of training. Keep in mind that front-line team members, who are generally at higher risk of experiencing violent conflicts, need different training than administrators and back-office staff. Consider whether the program offers customizable training that fits every role and risk level to foster organization-wide safety and well-being. 

Creating a common crisis response language. Evaluate the program's ability to establish a common crisis response language across different departments and roles within the organization. A standardized approach ensures consistency in communication during escalated situations. Look for training programs that emphasize a shared vocabulary, allowing staff to effectively collaborate and respond to crises using a language everyone understands. 

Identifying escalating behaviors. Assess whether the program will help the team learn the skills to recognize, prevent and respond to crises in the workplace. It should help them identify behavior that is likely to escalate, what steps they can take to reduce conflict and when to ask another staff member to assist in de-escalating a challenging situation. 

Instilling confidence. Whether they are learning verbal, nonverbal or a variety of intervention strategies, a good training program should also provide the skills to verbally de-escalate disruptive behaviors in a way that promotes empathy and self-empowerment. 

Choosing a high-quality de-escalation training program can fortify the cultural framework by providing staff with the necessary skills to navigate potential conflicts. Good programs emphasize effective communication, early intervention, and recognizing signs of escalation before violence occurs. Practical, scenario-based training ensures staff can apply learned techniques in real-world situations, creating a more resilient and confident workforce capable of maintaining a secure healthcare environment. 

While each healthcare organization is unique, these foundational strategies for establishing comprehensive safety protocols and finding an appropriate training program can take the guesswork out of implementation. Reducing the risk of workplace violence is no small feat, but managers are not alone. Whether they find support in on the team or from outside professionals, proactive planning can offer greater peace of mind and hope for the future of healthcare professionals. 

AlGene Caraulia is vice president of integration and sustainability at the Crisis Prevention Institute. 

January 24, 2024

Topic Area: Safety

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