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  • Keir Templeman-Young

Join Their Reality

An incident occurred in 2014 whereby the security team was asked to assist clinical staff stopping an elderly lady from absconding from the unit.

Upon arrival we saw a lady of small stature hunched over a Zimmer frame, shuffling and striking at people with her walking aid.


I wanted to speak with her at eye level so I crouched to her side and tried to reassure her.


She thought that all the nurses and health care staff were intruders in her home and that she wouldn't return to her bed until we had changed the locks on the door.


I took the wrong approach

I reassured her that they were there to care for her and that no-one posed her any risk. This naturally had no affect on her.

My colleague approached having listened to what she had said and introduced himself as the locksmith, and explained that he was there to change her lock.

She said "finally"



"The problem with communication is that we listen to respond rather than to understand"



He covered the door with his body and removed his radio banging it on the door handle as if it were a tool. A few seconds passed and he turned round and said "there you go, a new lock".


She glanced at it smiled and returned to her bed.


So what do we learn?


  • Sometimes thinking outside of the box is important.


  • By doing so, you will avoid the need for physical intervention.


  • Learn from your colleagues. Even as a Manager you can learn from your team.


  • If you are working with the elderly or people who lack capacity it is often better not to challenge reality as they perceive it.


Would you tell a 98 year old that her mother is not coming to collect her?


Join their reality.


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