Trillium Family Services

Behavioral health provider Trillium Family Services works with SAIF to design a Total Worker Health® approach to increase staff’s sense of safety and support.

Assault-related injuries, burn out, high turn-over. These are common issues faced by people who work in behavioral health.

As a provider of prevention, intensive outpatient, day treatment, psychiatric residential and secure inpatient services, Trillium Family Services was struggling to find ways to address these challenges.

“There are a lot of kids that come in with a lot of trauma and a way that can manifest in the units is aggression and violence and just really difficult situations – difficult for the kids and the whole team,” says Kim Catarius, Health Services Director at Trillium’s Children’s Farm Home in Corvallis.

Despite efforts by Trillium’s leadership to address the impact these injuries had on staff, turnover remained high. But in 2020, SAIF Senior Safety Management Consultant Angie Wisher, along with Total Worker Health Adviser Liz Hill, proposed the Healthy Workplace Participatory Program (HWPP) as a new approach.

“As an agency, we were very much like, ‘Let’s try anything,’” says Training and Safety Director Elizabeth McMahan.

The key to success in the HWPP is involving front-line workers in building solutions and making decisions. Trillium used an existing committee as a steering committee and formed a design team, which included direct care staff from the most challenging units.

The team conducted a root cause analysis and designed solutions that proposed interventions beyond injury prevention. Interventions included increasing a sense of safety and support in the workplace, developing the training and onboarding program, re-evaluating staff benefits, and offering opportunities for professional development.

“An important part of this process is the path the design committee takes before they can even begin talking about solutions,” Wisher says. “Human nature is that we want to immediately try to fix things from the start. This process forced us to ask, ‘What are the issues and contributing factors?’ Then start identifying solutions to address them.”

From staff wage increases to changing the structure of the academy training program to be more comprehensive and hands-on, to a shift in workplace culture – the program has already led to positive results. Not to mention the reduced need for physical restraints of clients in crisis.

“The use of manual holds has dropped significantly. We’re not seeing nearly as much physical intervention,” says Colton Hines, program supervisor. “There’s more passion, there’s more patience, there’s less burn-out.”

Hill says that once the team shifted their focus to creating a sense of workplace safety and support, ideas, solutions, and creativity just flowed. “We are so proud and inspired to have been part of the process.”

Watch our video to see and hear directly from Trillium Family Services employees on their experiences with the program.

Learn more about the Healthy Workplace Participatory Program. Reach out to your SAIF safety consultant if you are interested in implementing your own Total Worker Health®approach in your workplace.

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