Healthcare workers are at increased risk of workplace violence. A recent WHO report shows that between 8% and 38% of healthcare workers suffer physical violence at some point in their careers.
But there is hope. Effective internal communication can help minimize the risk to staff safety, as well as create an environment where a safety culture can be fostered. Here are five suggestions that could suit your workplace.
1. Flagging system to update status
One of the most important times in a hospital is the beginning of a new shift. Handover between incoming and outgoing staff may be a hurried affair, and important information can be missed.
Try introducing a flagging system to inform staff of the day’s schedule, alert them to any disruptive patients, or pass on security notifications.
Comms tools like a desktop ticker are well suited for conveying important information, while maintaining patient confidentiality.
2. Alert when action need be taken
An active shooter on site, an aggressive patient or an extreme weather event. Sometimes an incident suddenly escalates and it’s necessary to immediately alert all staff of the danger. But alarm systems that rely on using a telephone, whistles or screams are ineffective and dangerous.
Emergency alerts can be triggered fast, silently and delivered to all staff computer screens immediately. These alerts bypass email and instantly grab attention. Make sure they can also be triggered from remote areas such as nurses’ stations and registration areas.
3. Upskill to know how to react
Knowing the right actions to take in a threatening situation can be the difference between inflaming or defusing risk. Training sessions and simulated events should cover areas such as de-escalation and procedures to follow for informing law enforcement.
However, training sessions are only as useful as their attendance, so promote them prominently on computer wallpapers, screensavers and your intranet.
4. Reach staff without computers
In the busy environments of hospitals or other healthcare clinics, many staff will be working on wards and dealing with patients – they will rarely be in front of a computer.
Adapt your computer wallpaper design or intranet articles into printed flyers to post in common areas and staff rooms. These can be effective in both reminding and assuring staff of things like your workplace violence policy or an awareness campaign.
5. Involve your team
Safety and security don’t happen in isolation. The whole team benefits from everyone being involved, whether that be contributing suggestions or alerting colleagues to risks they’ve noticed.
Collaborating is an excellent way of soliciting tips from staff, though it tends to be more effective in a formal structure so that insights aren’t lost amidst a flood of messages. A moderated forum on your organization’s intranet or a custom survey are good options.
Addressing violence in hospitals and other healthcare institutions is essential. Changes to environment, administration and behavior will be necessary to foster a safety culture – changes which effective internal communications can support.
Read the full version of this article at Becker's Healthcare.