When things get heated
Enactment: Excuse me, Yvonne. I’d like to talk to you, and I’d like to talk to you now. What's the matter, Sonia? Somebody has been sleeping in my bed, and I don't like it. Who would be doing that? Michael and Tony. So I’ll need to go and talk to them. Well, they're not home at the moment, they took off, but if they were here I’d like you to have words with them.
Dennis Bromley, Proprietor, Viewmont Terrace: It can be very tough dealing with difficult situations, especially if they come become heated. But I think the one thing we’ve got to remember there’s a reason that it is happening, and we’ve got to find out what that reason is.
Sue Gery, Proprietor, Alma House: Is it their mental illness? Is it something physical? Are they too hot or too cold? Are they upset because they’ve had a personal situation that is churning on in their mind? Are they delusional? Are they hearing voices that are telling them that someone's trying to upset them? There are so many factors that could be involved. They could have a urinary tract infection.
Tony Hoare, Mental Health First Aid Trainer, Action Education Consultants: The best way to defuse a heated situation is to recognise, firstly, if there is a trigger of some sort and remove that trigger or remove the person from the trigger - that could be another person, that could be a situation, that could be dinner not being what was expected. And those complex situations arise anywhere where there's people, anywhere where there’s individuals. It happens in families and it happens in SRSs.
Andrew Huntington, Proprietor, Cottisfield: You get to know a person's walk, you know. Just by their walk, “OK, something's not right with that person.”
Linda Huntington, Proprietor, Cottisfield: “Keep an eye out for them.”
Andrew Huntington, Proprietor, Cottisfield: Yeah, yeah. A certain look in their eye. They might get a stony look. You know, whether their pupils are dilated or fixed. Yep, their posture, their tone of voice. So there's lots of warning signs.
Linda Huntington, Proprietor, Cottisfield: When we first, sort of, meet them and all that sort of stuff, when they first come in, these are some of the things that we do talk to them about, about, “How do you like to be
spoken to? What works best for you in situations when you're unwell?” Because most of them have been unwell in the past and most of them do actually know how they like to be spoken to when they're unwell. When we have problem behaviours or we have an aggressive resident, it’s about timing, about going after they've had their incident or whatever. It’s about going, "This is the time to go and have a chat to them about their behaviour."
Andrew Huntington, Proprietor, Cottisfield: Yes, yes. De-escalate, cool down, time-out first, then we’ll address.
Linda Huntington, Proprietor, Cottisfield: Choose a time that is appropriate to go and talk to them, where they are going to be more receptive to talking back to us about what's happened.
King Chen, Proprietor, Greenhaven: It is very important to try to avoid these situations in the first place, then you can pick up on these little signs and symptoms and say, "OK, maybe John Smith is going to have a relapse in the next couple of days." You could definitely request for an urgent psychiatric review, get the CAT team involved, get the family involved, maybe, or maybe sometimes ask for the GP, for extra home visits, to assess the situation, and we'll move from there.
Else Bromley, Manager, Viewmont Terrace: If I'm in the office and I hear shouting down the hallway, I just, yeah, I immediately go down to see what the situation is. But the majority of the time it can easily be resolved. The majority of the time it’s just misunderstandings between the two residents.
Dennis Bromley, Proprietor, Viewmont Terrace: When a situation gets very heated, and the residents are get very animated and loud, you’ve got to remain calm. You have to use your - the modulation of your voice is very important. If I SPEAK LIKETHIS THIS they're going to speak loud too, but if I speak like I'm doing now, it will have a calming effect on them almost immediately.
Else Bromley, Manager, Viewmont Terrace: When they are calmed down, I just get them to talk and to vent. Sometimes can it be frustration that is built up and they need somebody to talk to, so it is about giving them that time and that a little bit of attention. Then generally, they are happy to go about the rest of the day.
Enactment: I’m gonna pick up this right now and chuck it. No, it wouldn't do anyone good. Why not? No, it wouldn't do anyone any good. Why not? Sonia! Unless you do something, I'm gonna chuck this in your face. Calm down, Sonia. Why should I? Put that down. I will go and talk to them. Why? It always comes to me putting stuff down.
Why can't I just do it, hey? Why?
Dennis Bromley, Proprietor, Viewmont Terrace: When you get to the point that it is not working, you have to make a decision “Is this going to escalate into an act of violence?” When do you call the police? Probably sooner, and they'd rather that you phone soon, too. They’ve never said to me once ,when I had to call the police, they never said, "You have wasted our time." They always said, "We would rather you called us sooner."
Jillian Brennan, Proprietor, Brooklyn House: When a situation gets out of control, my first thought is of the residents. I have to get them - either the person that’s causing the problem out. If they won't move you just got to get everybody else away from them so it doesn't exacerbate, so someone doesn't get hurt, and make sure that the other staff are somewhere at hand, but in a place where they're safe.
Peter Gibson, Proprietor, Merriwa Grove & Delaney Manor: Top tips for handling heated situations? I think the first thing is to keep composed yourself. Not get emotional about the situation. Reassuring both parties that we can resolve the matter. I think that is pretty important - to let them know that you are, perhaps, in control of a calming situation. To address the situation in an area that’s away from other residents, and preferably with a second staff member present, just in case it does escalate, and clearly explain to people what their responsibilities are. But, also, during that phase, letting people have the opportunity to speak, so it is usually similar to a mediation-type thing, where everybody has to be quiet apart from the person who is speaking and they can say their piece.
It usually works quite well. Jim Strongman, Lead Program Worker, SVVI-SRS Supporting Connections: It might be a chance for them to release a lot of energy, a lot of negativity and also a point to get their voice across. For some people, the only way they feel like they can be heard amongst everybody else is to make these kind of statements and do these kinds of things.