Carla Dearing, Service Manager
When I began my role as a support worker in the early 2000’s, I received some ‘training’ on how to safely hold another human in the role of a support worker. At the time this was considered best practice for some people once they had reached a level of crisis.
Being the clumsy person that I am, I kept my fingers crossed that this wasn’t something I would have to do in my role! Roll forward a week, I remember the feeling of my heart thumping in my chest as I saw a person being restrained for the first time. My manager asked if I wanted to practice what I had been taught…… my words were “no thank you!” I wasn’t scared of getting hurt, I was scared of hurting somebody whom I had quickly grown to care for. I remember thinking, there must be a better way to deal with a situation like this? This experience has stayed with me ever since, and as a service manager in recent years it has always been my priority to keep the people we support safe, by adopting the least restrictive methods to do so. I have always worked hard to instil a positive, proactive culture within the teams I have led.
That said, sometimes people we support just aren’t having a great day, but we can empathise, try to understand and try to make it better!
Stephanie Harris, PBS Specialist
My mantra has always been “there must be a better way”. Although I have been teaching restrictive physical intervention techniques throughout the last two decades, in practice I have only used restraint on two occasions! There has probably been more occasions when I have used disengagement skills or blocked harmful contact; but holding people is just something that has rarely been necessary. I’ve been lucky to have always worked with people and teams who are as eager as I am to find creative solutions to behaviours of concern and to search for the “why” behind the distress.
Of course, there are times when you doubt whether an approach will work or not. I remember being told once at a referral meeting that a young person we were assessing would “definitely need to be restrained”. My colleague and I wondered if we had bitten off more than we could chew…Then I reminded us both,” there must be a better way”. Using a human rights based, person centred approach the young person’s quality of life improved and they felt in control of their life. Through consistent support, honesty and reflective practice, trust grew to help the young person to feel safe. That is not to say that there weren’t any hiccups along the way, but verbal de-escalation was generally successful without anyone getting hurt.
Pledging my personal support to the Restraint Reduction Network was a natural first step to take after re accrediting as a MAPA (CPI) Instructor. When I delivered my first MAPA Foundation Course to my colleagues at Glassmoon Services, I encouraged them to pledge their personal support to the RRN which they did as it is core to our organisational purpose.
We worked with our Operations Director, Kerry Libby to write our RRN Pledge and it is true to our values as individuals and as an organisation. We are looking forward to working with our colleagues internally and across multi-disciplinary teams in both social care and healthcare to achieve what we have pledged going forward.