Staff support procedures in a low-secure forensic service [2018]

Staff working in forensic inpatient settings are at increased risk of harm perpetrated by patients. Support offered in response to such incidents can have a significant impact on how staff recover. The purpose of this paper is to explore how staff support procedures implemented in one low-secure forensic service impacted on staff recovery.

In total, 11 members of staff who had direct patient contact volunteered from an opportunity sample. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with each participant, asking about experiences of abuse at work and subsequent staff support procedures. Interviews were analysed using thematic analysis.

Four overarching themes were identified; experiences of harm, supported recovery, missed opportunities and therapeutic relationships. This led to a better understanding of how staff coped with incidents of abuse at work and how support procedures impacted on their recovery.

Research limitations/implications
The service evaluation was limited by transferability of the findings. The process of sampling may have meant there were biases in those who volunteered to take part. Further projects such as this are required to develop the themes identified.

Practical implications
Findings led to the development of a new integrated model of staff support.

This was one of the first studies in the UK to formally evaluate a staff support procedure in forensic low-secure services and include experiences of both clinical and non-clinical staff who are regularly exposed to potentially harmful events.

Sarah Cooper, Andy Colin Inett

Journal of Forensic Practice, Vol. 20 Issue: 3, 2018