Minimizing Injury

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More Than a Caregiver : 

More Than a Caregiver As a direct support professional, you have a challenging job. You are responsible for the health and safety of the people you support. You also have a responsibility to consistently act as a good role model and to provide learning opportunities. This means that you’re a lot more than a caregiver. Your first responsibility is to ensure the safety of the people you support. Your next responsibility is to teach people the skills they need to lead a full and productive life. While you’re doing those things, you need to be focused on working safely.

Supporting Behavioral Challenges : 

Supporting Behavioral Challenges It’s easy to celebrate with a person when they learn a new skill, reach a personal goal, or accomplish something they’ve been trying for months to do. What’s not always easy is to help and support someone who is experiencing behavioral challenges. In this training, we’ll discuss things that you can do to be proactive when you’re in a challenging situation with an individual you support. We’ll talk about how you can minimize the chance of injury to yourself, the person you’re supporting, and others who may be nearby. We’ll also help you assess yourself to determine how you can adjust your responses and actions to take into consideration the unique needs and abilities of the people you support.

What Can You Do? : 

What Can You Do? So what can you do when you’re working with someone who’s experiencing behavioral challenges? First thing’s first: Keep the situation from escalating by attending to the needs of the individual you’re supporting. The more you can do to de-escalate the situation, the better chance you’ll prevent an injury to yourself, the person you’re supporting, or others nearby. Remember that your role is to support and teach, not to control. The more you struggle to control someone, the more chance the person will express their frustration with a physical reaction - which may put you at risk of injury.

Think “Medical” First : 

Think “Medical” First Here’s a tool to help when you’re in a challenging situation with a person you support. Some people will use a variety of challenging behaviors to express one need. Other people will use one challenging behavior to express all their needs. As the person providing support, you have a responsibility to assess whether there is a medical purpose behind each behavioral issue FIRST.

Think “Environment” Next : 

Think “Environment” Next Is there too much noise? Is the person over-stimulated? Is the area crowded? Is it too warm, too cold, too dark, or too light? Is the person bored? Understanding if an environmental factor is contributing to a behavioral challenge will help you understand what you can do to help the person you’re supporting. If you determine that an environmental factor is causing or contributing to the person’s behavioral challenges, take action. Change the environment. For example, turn on a light or turn off a light.

Think “Environment” : 

Think “Environment” If you have no control over the environmental factor, move the person to a place where the environment is different. For example, if you’re in a crowded area, take a walk to a less crowded area. If you’re outside and it’s hot out, go inside where it’s air conditioned. Remind the person you’re supporting about the coping skills you’ve already been working on with them. Remember that the individual might not know what to do in a particular situation, so it’s up to you to provide prompts and reminders.

Consider The Setting : 

Consider The Setting Public places are not part of the support environment. Your job is to teach skills within the confines of the program, then help the people you support practice them in real-world, inclusive settings. Protect the dignity of the person you’re supporting by finding an alternative to the situation you’re in.

Consider Your Reaction : 

Consider Your Reaction If you get angry and frustrated, chances are the person you’re working with will get angry and frustrated, too. How will that help the situation? (Hint: the answer is “Not at all.”) Remember that the person you’re supporting is acting the way they are for a reason. And that reason is very likely their way of trying to communicate something to you. Instead of getting frustrated, ask yourself: “What are they calling my attention to right now?” Realize that not all actions are bad. If a person you’re supporting refuses to do something, or walks away, that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s a problem. Consider this: Non-compliance can be a healthy response to a maladaptive environment. It’s essentially a person speaking up for him or herself!

Consider Your Reaction : 

Consider Your Reaction Ask yourself if the person has a choice about what’s happening. Can you provide a real-world choice? Or are you trying to control the situation to make things go your way? Remember, your job isn’t to control - it’s to help people make good, effective choices. If there isn’t a real world choice, consider changing your presentation. Give whatever choices you can or change the tone of your voice.

Focus On Praise : 

Focus On Praise Praising even the smallest accomplishments will help focus you and the people you support on positive actions and positive outcomes. You’ll probably find that everyone can be more relaxed and happy in an environment that focuses on praise, rather than constant correction.

Reduce Risk : 

Reduce Risk By changing how you assess and respond to behavioral issues, you’ll find that you’re better able to support the individual to maintain or regain self-control. Doing this will help reduce everyone’s risk of injury.

Assess Yourself : 

Assess Yourself It’s important that you periodically assess yourself to determine how you can adjust your responses and actions to take into consideration the unique needs and abilities of the people you support.

Ask yourself: : 

Ask yourself: Am I a good listener? This means: Actually listen. Don’t spend the time that the other person is talking planning your rebuttal. Don’t interrupt. Ask questions when clarification is needed. Remain open-minded and “tuned in.”

Ask yourself: : 

Ask yourself: Am I a good speaker? This means: Keep your instructions to others short and to the point. Articulate clearly. Try to use language the listener can understand. If you are being misunderstood, remember that it is your responsibility to help the other person understand you.

Ask yourself: : 

Ask yourself: Do I adjust my attitude to meet the needs of the people I support? This means: Be aware of body language. Be aware of facial expression. Be an “actor” when needed. Remember, your role as a direct support professional isn’t to impose your beliefs or values on the people you support. Your role is to be whatever the people you support need you to be at any given time. For example, if you’re having a bad day, you should “act” like you’re having a good day when you’re working with the people you support.

Ask yourself: : 

Ask yourself: Do I use people-first language? This means: Avoid labels. Instead of “disabled,” say “person with a disability.” Use affirmative rather than negative phrases. Say “person who uses a wheelchair” instead of “confined to a wheelchair” or “in a wheelchair.” Remember that positive language empowers!

Ask yourself: : 

Ask yourself: Do I monitor my tone of voice? This means: Use a calm, even tone. Explain what you’re doing as you’re doing it. Don’t joke around or use sarcasm. Many people, including some people with cognitive or other disabilities, don’t understand the difference between a serious comment and one said in jest.

Ask yourself: : 

Ask yourself: Am I aware of my approach? This means: Remove the element of surprise by not approaching people abruptly. Give as much warning as possible before you begin to assist someone. Monitor your voice volume. You don’t want to alarm someone by speaking too loudly, nor do you want to startle someone by acting without giving instructions that are audible to that person. If you’re working with someone who has difficulty hearing, monitor your actions to make sure you’re communicating in a way that works for their needs. Keep yourself out of harm’s way.

Ask yourself: : 

Ask yourself: Do I know the person I’m working with? This means: Be aware of the person’s abilities. Be familiar with the person’s needs. Be familiar with how the person responds to certain situations. If you really know the person, you’ll know what’s important to them. Seek out opportunities to praise!

Ask yourself: : 

Ask yourself: Am I aware of the environment from a safety perspective? This means: Be aware of the physical setting. Do you have a clear path to the exit? Is there the space needed to control the situation? Are there any objects in the vicinity that could be used to cause injury? Are there other people in the area who could get hurt?

Ask yourself: : 

Ask yourself: Am I patient? This means: Thinking before you act. When you’re in a challenging situation, remind yourself to STOP, BREATHE, and THINK. This will give you time to make a good choice, rather than reacting “in the moment.” Recognizing that if the task is new to the person or something the person has difficulty with you should… Take it slow. Be sure to give the person enough time to complete the task.

Be Patient - Be Sensitive – Be Focused : 

Be Patient - Be Sensitive – Be Focused Be patient. It might seem easier to do something for someone, but remember that easier doesn’t always mean better. Your role is to support and teach. Be sensitive to the person’s feelings. This means being encouraging in the face of frustration and praising even the smallest accomplishment. Focus on being proactive and sensitive when you’re in a challenging situation with an individual you support. By doing this, you can minimize the chance of injury to yourself, the person you’re supporting, and others.

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