A training session at a Bermudian hospital provided a 'lightbulb moment' for nurse Helen Tait.
It showcased a non-abusive approach to supporting people who have challenging behaviour. That was 30 years ago and now she is managing director of NAPPI in the UK. NAPPI teaches carers and trainers those same transformational methods which takes the confrontation and fear out of potentially dangerous situations.
It was during a five-year spell at a hospital in Bermuda for adults with learning difficulties and mental health problems in the early 1990s that Helen, then a psychiatric and general nurse, first discovered NAPPI (Non Abusive Psychological and Physical Intervention) skills.
Ms Tait explained: "The NAPPI founder - American Vietnam war veteran and martial arts instructor Kurk Lalemand - ran a course at the hospital and it changed things overnight."
"He had realised that dealing with behaviour in vulnerable people was not something to be done in a sports style 'winners and losers' way. It just feeds aggression and humiliation."
"So he developed a non-abusive system which aimed to replace confrontation with seeking to diffuse situations."
"The way well-meaning staff were approaching situations could actually make things worse."
"And, if carers do have to use restrictive physical intervention as a last resort they are taught skills such as loosening the tightness of a grip which can change a service user's response."
"I had previously been working in a semi-secure approved school in Yorkshire where we were restraining vulnerable children using 'pin down' methods to hold them on the floor. We had no training and it was frightening for the already abused children as well as for the carers." she explained.
Ms Tait was so impressed by the NAPPI system that, when she returned to the UK to manage a residential care home in Yorkshire, she contacted Mr Lalemand to bring his ideas across the pond, sparked by a restraint death in the West Country.
"We ended up going to the States for three weeks to learn over there and we bought the NAPPI uk franchise in 1995." she explained.
Over the years it has gained momentum and expanded to a staff of 13 people with 500 trainers delivering its work across the country.
"It is evolving all the time, particularly on the psychological side where we have added more modules - including looking at wellbeing for the service-users and staff, because, if staff wellbeing is good, it is good for everybody." said Ms Tait.
She also did a degree in education and training and is a big believer in lifelong learning - including for service users, who are involved in helping at training sessions, and can gain Level 1 BTEC qualifications such as cookery, maintenance and administration.
NAPPI uk also strives to give a personal service and to build long-term relationships with its clients and trainers.
"We have clients who have been with us almost 20 years and one since day one. Some of our trainers have even said that they phone up just for a chat, which is great." said Ms Tait.
NAPPI uk runs a range of training courses and workshops specialising in supporting individuals who present with behaviour of concern.
Find out more about NAPPI courses here or call us on 01723 353353.