Em­ployee as­sis­tance

Sup­port­ing work­ers in the im­me­di­ate af­ter­math of a crit­i­cal in­ci­dent is es­sen­tial for both short- and long-term health and well­be­ing, writes

ABC (Australia) - - HEALTH AND WELLBEING - Nikki Brouw­ers Nikki Brouw­ers The In­ter­act Group founder and man­ag­ing di­rec­tor

Do­mes­ti­cally, and in­deed within the lo­cal NSW bus and coach com­mu­nity, we un­for­tu­nately have fairly reg­u­lar crit­i­cal in­ci­dent chal­lenges to deal with. In the face of un­ex­pected ac­ci­dents, there has been wide­spread trauma for those both di­rectly and in­di­rectly in­volved.

And this is the cru­cial point about Crit­i­cal In­ci­dent Man­age­ment. The ef­fects can be far reach­ing be­cause our net­works of co-work­ers, fam­ily and friends are also im­pli­cated by de­fault. As I’ve said be­fore in this col­umn, the bus and coach in­dus­try has an im­pres­sive record of em­ploy­ing lo­cal peo­ple and en­gag­ing with the com­mu­nity, so it is par­tic­u­larly vul­ner­a­ble to the ef­fects of crit­i­cal in­ci­dents.

As hu­man be­ings, we tend to be op­ti­mistic by na­ture, con­sid­er­ing the like­li­hood of a ‘dis­as­trous’ event as re­mote or ‘al­ways hap­pen­ing some­where else’. In this way, a crit­i­cal in­ci­dent will of­ten come as a bolt from the blue, which is even more rea­son for em­ploy­ers to have a Crit­i­cal In­ci­dent Man­age­ment plan in place to deal with the af­ter­math in a timely, co­or­di­nated and com­pas­sion­ate way.

It is im­por­tant to re­alise that Crit­i­cal In­ci­dent Man­age­ment isn’t only con­cerned with the phys­i­cal im­pact on in­jured work­ers but also, and very im­por­tantly, the emo­tional im­pact on all work­ers and their ex­tended fam­i­lies.

En­gag­ing a psy­chol­o­gist or coun­sel­lor to con­duct a post-trauma de­brief and triage as­sess­ment to de­ter­mine the best in­ter­ven­tion and treat­ment op­tion can fa­cil­i­tate work­ers to re­turn to nor­mal as soon as pos­si­ble. Com­monly part of an Em­ployee As­sis­tance Pro­gram, the key com­po­nents of a trauma de­brief ses­sion are: 1. As­sist­ing work­ers to process the events and

nor­malise re­sponses 2. Avoid­ing or min­imis­ing long-term im­pacts 3. As­sess­ing the need for fur­ther psy­cho­log­i­cal

treat­ment 4. As­sess­ing re­quire­ments for work­place

re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion 5. Fa­cil­i­tat­ing a re­turn to work as soon as pos­si­ble

fol­low­ing the in­ci­dent.

An im­por­tant first step in Crit­i­cal In­ci­dent Man­age­ment is known as “scop­ing” to eval­u­ate the re­quire­ments needed for a spe­cific sit­u­a­tion.

This typ­i­cally in­volves a tele­phone dis­cus­sion with the com­pany rep­re­sen­ta­tive re­port­ing the in­ci­dent to de­cide the best re­sponse, as there will be a range of op­tions. Im­por­tantly, an ex­pe­ri­enced health care pro­fes­sional will re­spond from the out­set, ad­vis­ing the most ap­pro­pri­ate steps for man­ag­ing the in­ci­dent us­ing best clin­i­cal prac­tice. The scop­ing will con­firm spe­cific de­tails around lo­gis­tics and tim­ing, clar­i­fy­ing the num­ber of em­ploy­ees di­rectly and in­di­rectly af­fected and those who should be in­cluded in the crit­i­cal in­ci­dent re­sponse.

An ef­fec­tive scop­ing means the num­ber of coun­sel­lors and/or psy­chol­o­gists re­quired can be ac­cu­rately as­sessed and al­lo­cated quickly and ap­pro­pri­ately. Just as is the case for work­place re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, tim­ing and fol­low-up are both cru­cial in crit­i­cal in­ci­dent man­age­ment to min­imise longterm im­pacts and mon­i­tor a worker’s re­cov­ery. Typ­i­cally the time­line of Crit­i­cal In­ci­dent Man­age­ment is as fol­lows:

All em­ploy­ers have a duty of care to their staff to of­fer ap­pro­pri­ate sup­port in the af­ter­math of a crit­i­cal in­ci­dent. Stud­ies sug­gest that in­ter­ven­tions act as ur­gent emo­tional first-aid aimed at re­duc­ing dis­tress and pro­vid­ing sta­bil­ity to as­sist a per­son in­volved in a cri­sis to re­turn to “nor­mal” func­tion­ing.

The im­por­tance of hav­ing a Crit­i­cal In­ci­dent Man­age­ment plan in place en­sures ef­fec­tive man­age­ment to avoid ei­ther too much or too lit­tle in­ter­ven­tion at the ap­pro­pri­ate time and with the sup­port of an ex­pe­ri­enced ser­vice provider.

“All em­ploy­ers have a duty of care to their staff in the af­ter­math of a crit­i­cal in­ci­dent”

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