Ways to support colleagues through open, honest discussions
Enhance your awareness of ethical issues and legal frameworks around such interventions
Teaching students how to prevent violence and abuse in healthcare settings is rewarding
Healthcare workers are often the target of aggression, but nursing students on placements are vulnerable too
Patients exhibiting challenging behaviour, which includes any non-verbal, verbal or physical behaviour, is a significant issue in healthcare settings. Preventing such behaviour and the harm it can cause is important for healthcare organisations and individuals, and involves following a public health model comprised of three tiers: primary, secondary and tertiary prevention. Primary prevention aims to reduce the risk of challenging behaviour occurring in the first instance; secondary prevention involves reducing the risk associated with imminent challenging behaviour and its potential escalation; and tertiary prevention focuses on minimising the physical and emotional harm caused by challenging behaviours, during and after an event. De-escalation should be the first-line response to challenging behaviour, and healthcare staff should use a range of techniques – maintaining safety, self-regulation, effective communication, and assessment and actions – to reduce the incidence of challenging behaviour. In some situations, physical interventions may be required to protect the safety of the individual, healthcare staff and other individuals involved, and healthcare staff should be aware of local policies and procedures for this. Following a serious incident, where there was potential or actual harm to patients and healthcare staff, healthcare organisations should use post-incident reviews to learn from the situation, while healthcare staff should be offered the opportunity for debriefing. Positive responses to challenging behaviour at an organisational and individual level can lead to improved work environments for healthcare staff and optimal patient care and outcomes.
People with serious mental illness (SMI) are at risk of dying many years earlier than the general population. Providing an effective, cost-efficient healthcare service requires a holistic approach, and improving the physical health of people with SMI should be integral to all healthcare roles. It is important for nurses to identify and understand the barriers that people with SMI may experience when accessing physical healthcare. A range of factors contribute to reduced life expectancy, including lifestyle factors, symptoms of mental illness and the side effects of medications. This article discusses four areas of health that commonly affect people with SMI: metabolic syndrome, smoking, oral health and sexual health. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of risk factors that increase an individual’s risk of cardiovascular disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Smoking is increasingly prevalent in people with SMI, with rates remaining steady despite a decline in smoking rates nationally. Oral health and sexual health can negatively affect the physical health and well-being of people with SMI; however, these aspects of health are often neglected. This article identifies ways that nurses in all practice settings can use health promotion, assessment and treatment to improve the physical health of people with SMI in relation to these four areas.