Category six – Best demonstrated healthy and safe work design
Churches of Christ identified through extensive consultation that occupational violence and aggression were high risk areas in the aged care industry that were impacting employees’ health and wellbeing.
Churches of Christ implemented an ambassador program was inspired by the Client Services Ambassadors program used in some Canadian Hospital Emergency Departments. This approach relied on staff to be highly trained in customer service and security areas where they could confidently de-escalate issues quickly. This led to a reduction of incidents in the workplace. Research has proven that de-escalation can assist in the reduction of psychological and physical harm in the workplace.
Churches of Christ trialled a pilot project using ambassadors who were trained to support all staff, better manage residents, increase resilience and adaptability to change to current practices. Specific training in work practices was developed to identify, assess, soothe, de-escalate and re-direct residents displaying violent behaviours. The ambassador program has provided staff with greater confidence, ability, capability to de-escalate situations, and reduced stress levels. There have been minimal incidents recorded since the implementation of the ambassador pilot program.
The team involved inspired the pilot support team to make recommendations for the benefit of the aged care industry at a time where it is under significant strain. Return on investment was evident during the pilot as there was a reduction in escalations and injuries.