New protection team welcomed
A brand new protection team has been introduced at the West Suffolk Hospital to help keep patients, staff and buildings safe.
Twelve new members of staff make up the West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust’s (WSFT) new restrictive physical intervention (RPI) security team, which will help to make sure the hospital environment is one that looks and feels safe and secure for patients, visitors and other colleagues.
As well as supporting conflict incidents, the specially-trained team will help to keep the hospital secure by conducting regular patrols and sweeps of the site, monitoring access to restricted areas, helping to keep locked areas secure – and even escorting members of staff back to their cars on request if it’s dark or out-of-hours.
The 24/7 team is headed up by Darren Cooksey, security manager, who says there’s more to the role than people might think: “This is far from a traditional security job. The team need to have excellent communication skills, be able to take control of situations with composure and diplomacy, and most importantly demonstrate caring and understanding.
“It’s a responsible role that’s really about helping people, and deescalating any potential issues before they occur.”
Disappointingly, 18% of WSFT staff reported that they had been subjected to physical violence from patients, their relatives or members of the public within the last 12-months the latest NHS Staff Survey (2017) – well above the NHS national average (15%).
The new team has received specialist conflict management and mediation training, and, among their other duties, will be on hand to help protect staff if those they are caring for behave aggressively or inappropriately. The team can be called by any staff member at any time for support, which could be on a ward or on a one-to-one basis.
“We don’t tolerate violence and aggression against others,” says Darren. “No staff member, patient or visitor should visit our hospital and feel or be threatened by someone else. But with many patients this behaviour is out of their control, so they need to be supported and mediated with wherever possible, rather than physically restrained.
“This team has the skills to do that, and we hope will be a resource for staff to turn to so they can spend their valuable time doing what they do best – providing clinical care.”
The new team are already working hard and have been spotted out and about across the site, and bring a huge variety of skills, background and experience with them.
RPI security team member Nadean Cronin used to be a carer, and wanted to take her experience to a new role: “I wanted a change, but to keep working in a healthcare environment.
“This role will be a different challenge each day, and I’m really looking forward to meeting lots of new people. I’m proud to be making sure that staff and patients are protected, and I want to ensure that patients feel safe and cared for when they’re with us.”
The RPI team are identifiable by a white polo-shirt uniform.
Historically, the RPI support service has been run on a voluntary basis by specially trained staff. Director of resources, Craig Black, said: “The safety of those on our site is obviously very important to us, and that’s been reflected in our investment in this new, specially trained support team.
“Though violence and security incidents are relatively rare, it’s important we have the right support measures in place to deal with them.
“I’m delighted to see this team up and running, and I’m sure they will provide excellent support to staff, patients and visitors alike.”
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