Relationships are the context in which the work gets done. This statement is true not only in human service settings, but in almost every human endeavor concerned with production, achievement, or service. When people feel safe – physically, emotionally, and psychologically in the context of these relationships, they are freed up to commit themselves to other people in teamwork, and then to the task.
One question we often ask in our training is this: What would it feel like to you if you knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that your co-workers, your supervisors, the people you supervised, the people who are paid to work with you – what would it feel like to know that in all these relationships you would always, ALWAYS, be treated with dignity and respect? What would that feel like? Most people say that it would be heavenly, or perfect, or awesome.
Our commitment is to always treat people with dignity and respect. These words are in the mission statement and/or policies and procedures of most human service organizations. “The manner by which we treat people in our personal and occupational lives reflects or denies the truth of our commitment to human dignity and respect for individual worth.” quote from Dr. Haim Ginott (1956) What we do in our day to day relationships is more important than what we say we will do!
The Canadian Policy Research Network (CPRN, 2002) found that there were four key elements needed to build healthy workplace relationships. The first, is influence through a history of interactions where all people were treated with dignity and respect at all times. This creates environments where workplace violence is eliminated, through the building of healthy relationships where dignity and respect are experienced on a daily basis, and people feel psychologically and emotionally safe.
“Relationship is the single most important therapeutic modality for ameliorating threats of violence, emotional crises, and the need for restraint. Too much emphasis is placed on becoming skilful in the use of restraint. Much more emphasis should be placed on becoming skilful in the development of caring, respectful, empathic relationships during time of stress and conflict. Almost all “emergency” situations in which restraint is used can be better resolved by a non-coercive, caring intervention from a person willing and able to spend time with the upset or angry individual with the aim of peaceful conflict resolution (emphasis added).” Dr. Peter Breggin, Joint Commission on Accreditation of Health Care Organizations, April 25, 1999
We appreciate his statement, as it reinforces a belief we have held for over 30 years. We are continually upgrading our programs so we can better teach people how to become skilled in relating to people during times of stress in ways that treat them with dignity and respect so we can better support them as people, not just focusing on their behaviour. When we treat people with dignity and respect, we put into practice the definition of Positive Behaviour Support from Northern Arizona University, which emphasizes that “involves a commitment to continually search for new ways to minimize coercion”.
“Remember, one of the most important goals you can strive for in your job, home, or community is to develop a relationship with people, meet their needs, and treat them with dignity and respect, as well as helping them keep their own dignity and respect for themselves.” David H. Mandt, Sr., 1975
Moving from a value of dignity and respect that may only be visible on paper, to a culture where this value is visible and tangible in behaviour throughout your company is what we want to help you to accomplish. One of the keys to this movement is teamwork, which is nothing more than “relationships in action” as defined by The Mandt System®. When a culture of dignity and respect has been built, the results can be seen in the below statement:
First I want to say “thanks” for your guidance and expertise during our Mandt training last week. Combining new trainers with recertified trainers was such a nice touch.
I wanted to follow up on something that was mentioned during this training: I have been a Mandt trainer for more than ten years now and I have always thought that a reduction in the need for restraints is one of the most important things to focus on at our mental health agency. I know that this is an important goal for Mandt, as well, as it is something that we discuss at every Mandt training. About the time I became a Mandt trainer my agency opened a new “Children’s” building staffed by new, young employees. Unfortunately, restraints were not uncommon and training in this area was badly needed. A few weeks ago, because of State budget constraints, we had to close that building but I wanted to tell you that we were able to reduce the number of restraints by, at least, 95% in our childrens’ programs. This reduction in restraints had nothing to do with the children coming to that building and everything to do with the teamwork and training that the staff enjoyed while that program operated. Many of those staff members have now transitioned over to our Adult programs in other buildings and they bring with them a sense of “team” that, I’m sure, will contribute greatly to their new environments.
Bob, I am convinced that the Mandt system played a major role in how the staff thought, felt and behaved. I want to thank you and the rest of your Mandt team for sharing so much wisdom over the past years and I wish you all the very best. If all providers could just study and practice Chapters one, two and three from your manual we might, one day, see a restraint-free country! Can you imagine what might happen if everyone studied, and used, the entire manual?
Jerald J. Hogan Manager, Community Integration Services Northeast Occupational Exchange www.noemaine.org