How calm intervention curbs workplace violence

December 19, 2019 | by Mary Lou Mastro

Violence in the workplace isn’t a new issue.

But it’s difficult to tackle. It can be unpredictable. And it’s something people shouldn’t have to face at work.

At Edward-Elmhurst Health, we’re focused on preventing workplace violence using nonviolent intervention.

We’ve learned the best way to defuse a tense situation is with a calm, measured response. Deescalating a situation before it gets chaotic, keeping everyone safe.  In order to best prepare our staff and improve our skill sets, we have taken a multi-tiered approach to get employees trained.

Several of our staff members are instructors for the Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI), a company that provides nonviolent crisis intervention training.

CPI breaks an escalating crisis into four levels of behavior — anxious behavior, verbally acting out, physically acting out, and post crisis tension after an episode takes place.  Learning CPI teaches people to better assess behaviors so that we can quickly intervene with a response that’s appropriate for their level of behavior. CPI training provides our staff with detailed techniques on how to approach people at every level.

For years, we have been using CPI methods to train staff members in “high-risk” roles, such as Public Safety, behavioral health and the emergency departments. At Linden Oaks Behavioral Health, 550 employees are trained in Nonviolence Crisis Intervention.

To ensure safety for everyone, we’re expanding the training to include other departments that are experiencing these escalated behaviors.

Staff members who previously haven’t taken CPI training will now get the chance. As we continue to empower our staff with these skills, we continue to improve overall safety. We’re embracing this approach as a system and seeing results.

This training isn’t the only step we’re taking to reduce workplace violence.

In January 2016, Edward-Elmhurst Health organized a Workplace Violence Committee with representatives from a variety of departments.

This committee has been working on our Zero Harm, Zero Tolerance for Workplace Violence Initiative to raise awareness of workplace violence, put policies in place for prevention and education, provide guidelines for reporting and follow-up, and ensure our staff and physicians have the support and resources necessary to maintain a safe work environment.
Some of the initiatives developed by the committee include:

  • CPI training
  • Proactive rounding by Public Safety on inpatient units
  • Department-specific environmental assessments and modifications to enhance safety
  • A workplace violence scorecard for tracking reported incidents and following up
  • A Behavioral Emergency Response Team for all behavioral emergencies, preventing escalation and finding resolution for both in-patient and out-patient areas.
  • An updated workplace violence policy, and policies for securing belongings, conducting searches, and videotaping and recording staff

Staff at Edward Hospital and Elmhurst Hospital have participated in active shooter training classes and drills to see how a worst-case scenario could play out and to practice what we would do to stay safe.

The bottom line is we don’t expect our employees, patients or visitors to be the victims of violence.

The safety of our staff, physicians, volunteers, patients and visitors is of utmost importance to us, and we’re committed to making our hospitals places of safety, comfort, inspiration and healing.


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