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Managing patient safety in conflict: A security team with a patient-centred approach

If you visit Gateshead Health on any given day, you will see members of the security team patrolling the corridors, staffing the entrances and responding to incidents. It’s the security team’s duty to keep everyone in the hospital safe and ensure that patients and visitors do not cause harm to themselves or others. The team has a clear physical presence around the hospital site and its role is paramount to patient safety.


Physical fitness is an obvious quality a security officer must possess, but you may be shocked to learn that communication skills, empathy and compassion are also incredibly important parts of their toolkit. Our security team is proud to use non-pain-compliant methods to handle escalating situations. This essentially means they aim to resolve all conflict using physical contact as a last resort and even then ensure that if a physical method must be used it inflicts no pain.


Lee Taylor Head of Security and Portering comments on the patient-centred approach of the security team.


“Physical fitness is just one aspect of the job, learning verbal de-escalation, active listening, understanding spatial awareness and open body language is so important to stop aggressions before they become violent. A large number of incidents can be resolved with an open and compassionate conversation. Understanding the source of frustration for the individual and how you can help ultimately leads you closer to a solution than physical intervention ever could.”


This person-centred approach is a conscious practice for the security team and was the driving force behind the application to become a BILD-accredited training provider. BILD has been set up to certify training services that include restrictive physical intervention, with the intent to reduce the need to use restrictive methods by improving the quality of training. This accreditation was created for mental health hospitals, but as Gateshead Health is an acute Trust, it provides services to a wide range of patients including patients with mental health issues and the team security team thought it was important to be an early adopter of this practice.


The Prevention and Management of Violence and Aggression (PMVA) team is part of security and is responsible for training all staff members within Gateshead Health on the appropriate methods to handle violent and aggressive situations. The team felt it was important for the training that staff receive to be in line with their ethos and the values of the trust, and as a result, they set out to achieve BILD accreditation. Through the team’s hard work, QE Facilities became the first and currently the only acute trust in the country to have a BILD-accredited PMVA team.


Leanne Valentine has been particularly instrumental in the preparation and planning for the accreditation, she comments:


“We firmly believe in teaching restraint as a last resort. A person-centred approach focuses on finding that person’s needs and moving forward. I think this is integral to providing the very best care to our patients when presented with challenging situations. It also gives our staff the tools they need to put their patients first.”


The commitment to a patient-centred approach by the QE Facilities security team is a testament to their dedication to patient safety and compassionate care in Gateshead Health. By prioritising communication and empathy, they ensure that safety is maintained throughout the site without compromising the dignity and well-being of those they are there to help.


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