This site is intended for health professionals only

Guidance: How to prevent challenging behaviour

6 December 2013

Share this article

New guidance on how to prevent and manage challenging behaviour related to a patient’s clinical condition has been launched by NHS Protect. 

The organisation, which provides policy and operational guidance for NHS security management, said that challenging behaviour can take many forms, from mildly uncooperative to highly disruptive and potentially dangerous behaviours. 

NHS Protect said such behaviour can be a sign of distress and unmet needs rather than any intent to be challenging.

The guidance was developed by an expert group of leading doctors, nurses and training and security specialists, led by NHS Protect. It is supported and endorsed by a number of other leading organisations, including NHS England and the Royal College of Nursing.

Andrew Masterman, policy lead of the violence strategy at NHS Protect said: “The aim of this important new guidance is to assist staff in preventing clinically related challenging behaviour by anticipating an individual’s needs, reducing their distress and delivering the highest quality care. 

“It provides a practical approach on how to prevent challenging behaviour and where it occurs to manage it safely. It also provides staff with a consistent approach, so that anyone can adopt it in any NHS setting. That is its real strength.”

Dr Mike Durkin, NHS England director of patient safety said: “The challenge of keeping patients safe at times when they are outwardly exhibiting challenging behaviour has been increasingly recognised over the last few years. ‘Meeting needs and reducing distress’ provides a welcome focus on an area of healthcare that can cause high levels of anxiety for patients, their families and healthcare professionals.

“This is part of a wide and far-reaching programme of work being developed on the avoidance and safe management of restraint, to ensure every step is taken to keep risk to a minimum and that safety is paramount.”

Meeting needs and reducing distress is available to view online.