Changing Organizational Culture: From Controlling to Comforting

In the 30 years that I have worked at Ukeru’s parent company, Grafton Integrated Health Network, I can honestly say that there has been no bigger change than the work we have done to minimize restraint and seclusion. When I first joined the organization, two of the first three days of training were focused on the use of restraint. More than anything, I think that exemplifies what a monumental undertaking we had ahead of us as we began this effort.

The first thing we need to do was change our culture, which was, at the time, very controlling. We started by looking at the issue from the perspective of the direct care staff. So often, in industries such as behavioral healthcare or special education, the focus is entirely on those being served. And that should never change. But, we must take care of employees as well. That’s why Ukeru® is just as much for those providing care as it is for the individuals receiving it. We needed to make sure that, whatever we did, staff felt safe and were able to be at their best even when our clients were at their worst.

Grafton’s experience has taught me that there are core elements that must be in place in order to create – and sustain – an environment of comfort vs. control that benefits everyone:

  • Ensuring direct care staff feels valued and that they have a seat at the table as decisions are made;
  • Having a mantra of “No blame, no shame” and understanding that everyone is learning throughout this journey;
  • Making sure that the focus is on keeping everyone People can’t be at their best for clients if they don’t feel safe.

Of course, every organization is unique and changing a culture might look different for your organization than it did at Grafton. But our experience can certainly be a starting point for others looking to achieve similar outcomes. That’s why we created a new video that documents our experience. It’s now available on our website. Please be sure to take a look – we hope you find it helpful!