Mental Health Training Equips Behavioral Health Ambassadors

Consultation Summaries,De-escalation/Behavioral Expression

Evidence-based mental health training provided by the COE-NF equips behavioral health ambassadors with the necessary tools to de-escalate incidents of aggression, thereby providing a safe and healthy environment for residents, eliminating staff burnout and retaining valued professionals.

According to a report from a facility’s point of contact (POC), people with behavioral and mental health needs now comprise a large and rapidly growing segment of the resident population, many of which present with challenging behaviors that require de-escalation. The facility POC wants to ensure all residents receive individualized care and support based on their needs.

UNIQUE CHALLENGES: Responding to someone exhibiting aggressive behavior is not a baseline skill, and the frontline staff who interact most with these residents lack the training to identify and address challenging behaviors. This deficiency puts resident and staff safety at risk and results in staff frustration and burnout, leading to retention issues. The facility POC wants to provide the staff with the necessary training to ensure the health and well-being of residents and staff, mitigate staff burn-out and retain valued employees.

COE-NF SOLUTION: The COE-NF regional behavioral specialist (RBS) recommended that the staff complete the Crisis Prevention Institute’s Verbal De-Escalation training course. The objectives of this training include:

  • Identify and know how to respond to various levels of crisis behaviors.
  • Recognize how to manage your consistent, calm behavior to influence a positive outcome in a crisis.
  • Learn strategies to strengthen nonverbal communication.
  • Develop limit-setting strategies when verbally intervening to de-escalate defensive behaviors.
  • Learn safety intervention strategies to maximize safety and minimize harm.
  • Explore a framework to help guide staff and the individuals in distress through re-establishing the relationship.

The RBS recommended that staff who complete the training share resources focused on behavioral health with other staff via a communal bulletin board. The RBS also discussed ways to recognize staff for completing the behavioral health training, such as providing them with a special pin or other reward.

OUTCOME/BENEFITS: Fourteen staff members across three nursing facilities were identified to participate in the Crisis Prevention Institute’s Verbal De-Escalation training course led by a COE-NF-trained instructor. The facility POC reported creating a new program called “Behavioral Health Ambassadors.” Staff who complete the training are awarded a special green “Ambassador” pin and a certificate of recognition. The first pinning ceremony has already taken place, and the initial Behavioral Health Ambassador team was recognized on the facility’s social media.

Below is a quote from one of the ambassadors:

“It was great to celebrate with the team and recognize their accomplishments in completing the CPI Verbal Intervention Training and being part of the behavioral health ambassador team!” – Population Health and Quality Outcomes Consultant

The ambassadors wear their pins to work each day to show others they are ready and willing to help if needed in times of escalating behavior symptoms. They will also work together to bring behavioral and mental health education and awareness to the center.

Each facility’s behavioral health ambassador team will meet monthly to post resources on a communal behavioral health bulletin board. Resources will include COE-NF educational materials and other behavioral health-related news. The behavioral health ambassadors will use the techniques learned in the training to support staff within their facility during crises/incidents that require de-escalation. Further, the facilities will use data on measurable outcomes to demonstrate training effectiveness, such as employee retention rate and number of resident-to-resident and resident-to-staff aggressive incidents.

the center of excellence for behavioral health in nursing facilities (COE-NF)

Established by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), in partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the COE-NF offers Certified Medicare and Medicaid Nursing Facility Staff a centralized resource hub with easy access to trainings, technical assistance and additional resources, at no cost.

What We Do

We help nursing facilities to improve the quality of life and care provided for residents who are experiencing a variety of behavioral health disorders, with a focus on Serious Mental Illness (SMI), Substance Use Disorder (SUD) and Co-Occurring Disorders (COD).

Who We Help

We provide direct technical assistance, evidence-based training, and resources that are appropriate for every member of your long-term care facility — from those providing day-to-day direct care, to clinical and administrative staff.