Securicare provide a number of care courses including preventing and managing Challenging behaviour training, ‘Breakaway Training’ and Physical intervention training. We know that as well as actions, words matter too. In 1984 George Orwell said, “If thought corrupts language, then language can also corrupt thought...”  Think about terms such as ‘Handicapped’ and ‘disabled’. The reason they have been consigned to history is because of their power to make us undermine and devalue people; To think about them differently, and to treat them differently. Sadly this has often meant as lesser persons. So what about the terms used to describe the removal of a person’s liberty at the point at which their behaviour becomes unsafe?

Physical intervention trainingAs a general rule in the more technical documents you tend to get more emotionally dispassionate terminology. Beyond these guidance documents there have been varying attempts by authors to develop more socially valid terminology. In their advice document prepared for head teachers, staff and governing bodies the Department of Education refer to the ‘use of force’ to ‘control’ pupils or to ‘restrain’ them. Whilst these words are accurate, for some they have echoes of ‘Control and Restraint’ which is the terminology used to describe the techniques that were once upon a time used in prisons to contain violent criminals. The term (and the system) fell dramatically from favour , particularly within the health and social care sectors because of its heavy reliance on ‘Pain compliance’. For some it exemplified exactly what wasn’t required to manage ‘Challenging Behaviour’ because of its punitive component. So language changed to reflect the shifting reality of what staff were attempting to achieve. The Royal College of Nursing use the terms ‘Restrictive Physical Intervention’ and ‘Therapeutic Holding’. These terms convey a more legitimate functionality. Kennedy and Binns, perhaps in order to underscore the need to actively manage risks, use the term ‘Therapeutic Safe Holding’.

At service level, in various policy documents, you get more descriptive terms like ‘Small Holding’ and ‘Strong Holding’, references to ‘Holding Gently’ and ‘Holding Firmly’, as well as techniques like the ‘Guide Hold’ and ‘Support Hold’. The use of the word ‘hold’ (or ‘holding’) is a deliberate attempt to convey the supportive nature of the intervention. But even then it is a word that is freighted with different meanings. ‘Hold’ is variously defined as ‘to carry, or support with one's arms or hands’, to ‘keep or detain’ (someone) and to ‘exert power or control’ over someone, e.g. "Fred had some kind of hold over his father".

It is very difficult to find an entirely neutral word that doesn’t come with at least some baggage. After all most words have been around a long time. Take for instance the word ‘quell’. To quell is to ‘subdue or silence (someone)’ e.g. ‘Freda quelled him with a look" or to ‘suppress (a feeling)’ e.g. "she quelled an urge to race up the stairs". In its original Old English form however ‘cwellan’ meant to "to kill, murder or execute..". So not only do words matter, but they change as well.

In truth despite the best intentions of a community that spans the globe a true consensus on terminology has never developed. Whilst there is undeniably value in using the right/best terminology available it’s critical that staff focus on making sure that they respond to situations on a person by person basis and apply any skills that they are taught in a safe, lawful, sensitive and effective way.

SecuriCare offer a range of courses designed to enable support workers, carers and foster families to best respond to any ‘Challenging Behaviour’ that may occur. All programmes are finalised after full training needs analysis and delivered by experienced frontline practitioners. Click to see our ‘Preventing & Managing Challenging Behaviour’ Course which includes ‘Positive Behaviour Management’ techniques designed to minimise the need for any kind of restrictive intervention. You can also take a look at our person centred Behaviour Planning Service.

Securicare also offer a ‘Restraint Reduction’ support service and training in support of improving safety. Check out our ‘Physical Intervention’ courses and our online ‘Restraint Risks’ course, or ask for details about our newest course 'Physical Interventions: Removing Risk & Reducing Use' a course that provides practical guidance on how to manage risks within the context of an incident as well as prevent future restraint use. 

Contact us for more information and to discuss your needs: E: trainers@securicare.com or T: 01904 492442