What is De-Escalation Training?
There are always some situations where stress levels are high and conflict can arise quickly. Healthcare staff have to work around people at their most vulnerable, meaning they are more willing to lash out and exhibit aggressive behavior.
De-escalation training helps alleviate the potential for workplace violence and conflicts by allowing individuals to recognize the situation, step in as necessary, and calm everyone involved.
The primary purpose of de-escalation training is to prevent conflict and violence. However, the right de-escalation skills can help mitigate any situation, even if it has already escalated to a physical altercation. In each case, healthcare workers must aim to maintain health and safety protocols to protect everyone, including patients, visitors, and employees.
Top De-Escalation Techniques for Healthcare Professionals
One thing we recognize at Defuse is that conflict resolution does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. De-escalation skills can come in handy for a wide range of situations, such as:
- Verbal arguments
- Self harm scenarios
- Physical aggression
- Crisis prevention
Most people assume a conflict has to be between two or more people, but that’s not always the case. So, we teach a diverse range of de-escalation techniques to help healthcare staff adapt to every scenario.
Here are some of the various tactics we can train your staff on:
Assessment, Communication, and Tactics (ACT)
The first step in de-escalating a situation is to understand what’s going on and what’s triggering the conflict. During the assessment phase, the individual must learn to recognize the warning signs of aggressive behavior, such as:
- Firm Stance
- Aggressive Body Movements
- Intense Eye Contact
- Tone and Volume of One’s Voice
- Pacing Back and Forth
By spotting these warning signs, healthcare workers can step in before a conflict arises and focus on de-escalation as soon as possible.
The next step is to communicate with the involved parties. During this step, it’s imperative that workers use calm and positive language. Also, it’s important to use simple words and phrases that are easier to understand. In many cases, using hospital jargon or abbreviations can be confusing or seem patronizing.
During the communication phase, the goal is to understand the source of the conflict and identify potential remedies. From there, the person can move onto stage three: act.
Once the worker knows what’s causing the conflict, they can act accordingly. In some cases, the best solution is to talk through the problem with the patient to ease their nerves and provide emotional support.
In other cases, the best conflict resolution is to move one or more individuals to a safe, quiet area. This tactic is especially helpful for hospitals or other crowded areas where tensions can be extremely high.
Physical Prevention Strategies
Ideally, verbal de-escalation is all that’s required to avoid conflict. Talking it out with a patient or visitor can often alleviate the stress of the situation and prevent any physical violence.
However, verbal de-escalation may not be enough, so workers must also be prepared to utilize physical prevention strategies as necessary.
It’s also important to note that these strategies don’t always involve restraining or tackling patients. Instead, a calm touch on the shoulder or holding someone’s hand can be enough to de-escalate the situation.
If the conflict does escalate and become violent, workers must know who to contact and when to contact them. Realistically, medical staff shouldn’t be trained to restrain patients in an extreme case of violence. Instead, there should be emergency staff members on hand to step in when necessary.
De-Escalation Strategies: Patients vs. Co-Workers
Aggressive or violent behavior isn’t just limited to patients. Healthcare workers can also be involved in conflicts, either with co-workers or patients themselves.
At Defuse, we strive to ensure that all staff members receive basic de-escalation training so they can intervene and mitigate conflicts, not incite them. However, we also understand that emotions can run high, especially in such a high-stress field.
So, it’s important to practice different de-escalation techniques when dealing with co-workers compared to agitated patients. While the steps may be similar, the specific processes may differ. Again, each situation is unique, and it’s imperative for workers to know which strategies to use in any given scenario.
Benefits of De-Escalation Training for Healthcare Workers
Because healthcare facilities can see higher instances of conflict and aggressive behavior, it’s vital to invest in de-escalation training. Some of the primary benefits you can expect from this training include:
Reduced Patient Violence
Physical altercations between patients and healthcare staff can lead to many secondary problems, such as:
- Medical injuries and treatments
- High employee turnover
- Reduced trust among staff and patients
- Negative reputation
All of these elements can hurt the facility financially, leading to a worsening situation and potential bankruptcy. So, investing in de-escalation training can help prevent worst-case scenarios from happening in the first place.
Also, as a healthcare facility, your primary goal is to provide care to your patients. If conflicts or physical violence occur onsite, they can greatly hinder your ability to fulfill that objective.
Safer and More Productive Healthcare Facilities
When workplace conflicts are commonplace, both staff members and patients will feel unsafe, leading to higher tensions, more stress, and more conflict.
Investing in de-escalation training can make your facility run much smoother and more productively. When everyone feels safe and well-protected, they’re more likely to avoid confrontations and maintain a calm, serene atmosphere.
Also, if a conflict is brewing, attending to it swiftly and comprehensively can also help alleviate stress. Both workers and patients can feel more confident that they’re in good hands when they see healthcare staff being proactive about de-escalating a situation instead of letting it spiral out of control.
Happier and Calmer Healthcare Staff
It’s no secret that healthcare facilities need more high-quality employees. Staff shortages are a major problem across the nation, with lack of job satisfaction and burnout being the leading causes.
In many cases, healthcare workers want to help patients and make a difference, but when they’re forced to handle high-stress conflicts regularly, they’re unable to fulfill their duties. The stress that comes from conflicts and aggressive behavior is hard to undo, so it’s best to prevent these situations altogether.
Overall, investing in de-escalation training shows your commitment to your employees and that you’re willing to put their needs first, along with patient care. Once workers can see that kind of dedication in action, they’re more likely to stick around.
Better Patient Care
Learning how to de-escalate a situation doesn’t just help resolve conflicts. This kind of training can also be useful for healthcare staff who want to be better at recognizing a patient’s needs and providing the best care possible.
Overall, this training helps teach empathy and allows workers to engage with patients, visitors, and other staff with kindness and understanding. When these elements are prioritized, they can lead to a much better experience for everyone, especially patients.
Get Custom De-escalation Training from Defuse
Don’t wait until a conflict arises to see the need for this kind of training. Our specialists can work around your schedule and develop a comprehensive curriculum to meet your specific needs. No matter what kind of healthcare you provide, our team can assist your staff in being better caretakers and co-workers.
Contact us today to find out more.