About the project

The ‘Meeting needs and reducing distress’ project began in September 2011, with the aim of ensuring that staff working in NHS healthcare services can safely prevent and manage challenging behaviours while delivering high-quality care in a safe environment.

With this in mind, the project set out to identify strategies for

    • Identification of and response to unmet patient needs
    • More personalised patient care
    • Better medical assessment, diagnosis and treatment in a challenging behaviour situation
    • Staying safe in emergency situations
    • Effective communication techniques.

NHS Protect managed the project in close partnership with an Expert Group, who contributed to the development of the guidance with specialist knowledge about medical assessment and treatment, clinical care, conflict resolution and de-escalation skills, and other relevant subjects. A wider range of stakeholders was also consulted, and results of the project have been endorsed by a number of them.

Our approach

The approach recommended here focuses on understanding what may cause a person to become distressed by recognising their vulnerability, anticipating needs, and designing care accordingly. It challenges embedded perceptions about certain patient groups, conditions and behaviours; and ultimately how treatment and care should be delivered. It encourages professionals to reflect: ‘What are we doing right? What are we doing to make things worse? How can we change what we are doing to make things better?’

Project outputs

The project has produced the following outputs, all of which can be found on this website:

    •  A comprehensive guidance document including personalised care and clinical strategies to prevent challenging behaviour; immediate and long-term strategies to manage challenging behaviour; and organisational strategies to ensure that regulatory requirements and responsibilities toward staff and patients are met
    • A series of case studies providing real-life examples of how the recommended strategies have been successfully applied in practice
    • A toolkit of helpful resources, including sample matrices, checklists, audit and predictive tools, and template policies to assist in the management of challenging behaviour
    • A series of scenario-based videos which could be incorporated in staff induction and training

About NHS Protect

NHS Protect is the organisation with lead responsibility for security management in the NHS in England. This includes ensuring the security of staff who provide NHS services. For further information about the work of NHS Protect, please visit www.nhsprotect.nhs.uk.