Healthcare workers have to deal with a lot of challenges on the job. Whether they work at a clinic, a hospital, or a mobile health station, these challenges can be hard enough on their own, but they’re even worse when conflict arises. 

Healthcare facilities see conflicts regularly, with many professionals witnessing them as often as once a week. With so much stress to go around, it makes sense that tensions would be high. Also, while co-workers may be able to handle themselves, healthcare professionals have to worry about patients, too. 

Thankfully, de-escalation training can help mitigate the stress of workplace conflicts, no matter how or when they arise. Let’s break down the basic elements of de-escalation training and why it can be so beneficial. 

What is De-Escalation Training?

De-escalation training is the process of learning how to de-escalate a stressful situation or conflict. While conflict resolution is often part of this training, the primary goal is to calm everyone down and avoid potentially dangerous outbursts. 

For example, workplace violence can be common for those working in both healthcare and mental health facilities. De-escalation training can help calm individuals down so they don’t resort to violence during a conflict. 

As a rule, de-escalation training consists of specific skills, including: 

  • Active Listening – To be an active listener, you must show the other person that you hear and understand what they’re saying. Some hallmarks of active listening include repeating back what the other person said, asking questions about their remarks, and making eye contact. 
  • Body Language Exercises – Body language can convey a lot of information, so healthcare workers must be mindful that their body matches their voice. Training can help illustrate different body language techniques to calm a tense situation. 
  • Verbal Communication – Talking through a problem is a great way to de-escalate it. However, workers must know what to say and how to say it. Context matters a lot, especially when tensions are high. 

Types of Healthcare Workers That Can Benefit From De-Escalation Training

The healthcare field covers a wide range of different specialties and talents. Virtually everyone within the industry can benefit from de-escalation training, including: 

  • Nurses
  • First Responders (i.e., EMTs)
  • Doctors
  • Dentists
  • Mental Health Practitioners
  • Physical Therapists
  • Midwives
  • Imaging Techs
  • Physician Assistants (PA)
  • Medical Assistants (MA)

Even those who may not be actively involved in medicine can still take advantage of this training. For example, call center employees and receptionists can take these lessons and help minimize conflicts with patients and guests. 

What is the Importance of De-Escalation Training for Healthcare Workers?

Knowing de-escalation techniques is one thing, but it’s also imperative to understand why they’re so valuable. Here are a few of the top reasons why de-escalation training is a good investment for healthcare facilities. 

Prevent Workplace Violence

Unfortunately, nurses and other healthcare workers are five times more likely to experience workplace violence than other professions. Even worse, the rates of violence are only increasing, particularly in emergency departments and hospitals. Up to 40 percent of hospital nurses say they’ve seen more incidents at work than before. 

While there are many factors at play, the reality is that healthcare workers must be ready to confront and de-escalate workplace violence when it occurs. Although de-escalation training doesn’t often include physical prevention strategies like restraining a patient, it can still be an excellent first line of defense. 

One of the more valuable de-escalation techniques is learning how to spot potential conflict before it erupts. If nurses and doctors can spot aggressive behavior immediately, they can intervene and potentially prevent violent incidents. 

That said, it is challenging to minimize workplace violence after it escalates, especially when a co-worker or patient is already engaged in physical conflict. Nonetheless, some de-escalation techniques can help to resolve and calm the conflict once the individual has been restrained.

Show Better Compassion Toward Patients

A big part of being a healthcare professional is showing care and compassion for patients. Even though workers may interact with numerous patients throughout the day, they should still care about their health and well-being during these interactions. 

So, de-escalation training can help those working in healthcare settings by giving them the tools to share their compassion. Active listening and verbal communication can go a long way toward helping patients feel seen and heard. 

Another advantage of these de-escalation techniques is that they may allow nurses and doctors to understand their patients better. Many conditions or diseases can show similar symptoms, so it’s crucial for healthcare workers to dig beneath the surface. Better communication can help them understand more context and provide better care overall. 

Manage Physical and Verbal Abuse

Another unfortunate statistic is that up to 62 percent of healthcare professionals will experience verbal or physical abuse while on the job. Although many of these incidents may not involve explicit violent behavior (i.e., hitting or punching), they can still create stress and lead to conflict. 

Fortunately, de-escalation training doesn’t just help trainees manage their interactions with others. The right de-escalation techniques can be applied to oneself, helping workers learn to handle abuse when it happens. 

In many cases, communicating with the person doing the abusive behavior can be enough to combat it. In other instances, a worker might not be able to prevent the abuse, but they can learn to address it and then move forward. 

Overall, because healthcare professionals can’t control the behavior of their patients, they need to know how to apply de-escalation techniques wherever and whenever possible. The more they practice these techniques, the easier it will be to manage negative interactions. 

Collaborate Better With Other Healthcare Professionals

De-escalation skills are not just designed to help prevent aggressive behavior. De-escalation skills, when learned and used properly, can also be used to promote collaboration helping to create a better work environment. Healthcare facilities have to run smoothly to ensure the health and safety of everyone involved, so it makes sense to have workers learn how to communicate better. 

Overall, de-escalation training is all about learning how to understand others to help them calm down in a stressful situation. But, all of the same techniques can be applied to workplace relationships, too. 

When individuals can communicate better and learn how to understand each other, it’s much easier for them to get along and collaborate. Since patients can be a major source of stress and aggressive behavior, it’s imperative for everyone working at the facility to be able to work together as smoothly as possible. 

Examples of De-Escalation Techniques in a Healthcare Setting

So far, we’ve been talking about de-escalation training as an abstract concept. Now, let’s look at some specific examples to see how well de-escalation skills can apply to the healthcare field. 

Crisis Prevention

Those working in mental health facilities come across individuals with various mental health issues, many of which are not readily apparent. A patient may seem okay on the surface, but they’re struggling to hold themselves together on the inside. 

De-escalation training can help workers spot the warning signs of someone in crisis and intervene. They can strike up a conversation and discuss what’s going on with the individual. Then, after discovering what they’re experiencing, the employee can recommend a suitable course of action. 

Violence Prevention

One of the most practical de-escalation skills taught during training is the ability to spot someone on the verge of starting a conflict. Workers can pay attention to agitated patients and use their skills to prevent violence before it erupts. 

For example, perhaps a patient is pacing around or intimidating other patients in the clinic. Trained healthcare staff can intervene and start calming the patient down before they do something rash, such as start an altercation with someone else. 

Identifying Mystery Conditions

Active listening and open communication are two vital parts of de-escalation training for healthcare workers. These skills can help employees talk with patients more in-depth about what they’re experiencing. 

For example, a patient may give specific answers to questions, but it’s obvious that they’re nervous or trying to hide something. Healthcare staff can then change their line of questioning to dig deeper and uncover the truth of what’s going on. 

Sometimes, patients conceal information because they’re embarrassed to tell the truth. However, by showing compassion via active listening, a healthcare worker can help the patient feel more comfortable and safe. 

Why Defuse De-Escalation Training Works Best for Healthcare Workers

The problem with generic de-escalation training is that it’s hard to translate the lessons to a specific line of work. Usually, these sessions teach basic de-escalation skills that are meant for an office workplace or setting. 

Although standard de-escalation training can help, it’s best to invest in targeted training for healthcare workers. Defuse offers comprehensive training sessions that will apply to real-world scenarios and situations. 

We strive to create insightful programs that will help your team understand how de-escalation applies to their everyday interactions. We’ll focus on healthcare-specific situations so trainees always know exactly what to do when a situation arises. 

If you’re interested in investing in de-escalation training for healthcare workers, contact us today