Safety Tools are being found to be very useful in emergency departments and on mental health inpatient wards, as they incorporate aspects of trauma informed care and also provide some options for using sensory modulation in the hospital environment.
Safety Tools are sometimes also known as personal safety plans. Many hospitals have their own versions, developed in collaboration with consumer consultants.
A safety tool includes;
Warning signs of anger or distress
This section often includes internal sensations and also body language signals that others could observe.
This includes sensory and personal triggers. When discussing a safety plan with clients, it can be a safe way to identify triggers without needing to discuss the trauma.
For example a client once said that she couldn’t stand the feel of metal. It was not necessary to re-traumatise her by asking why or what the event was, as this was not the focus of the inpatient unit. Instead clinicians were able to know that this was something that was best avoided so that she was not triggered.
Using our senses to calm and soothe
This section can list the sensory modulation items or spaces available on an impatient unit. This is useful as it also is orientating clients to what is available.
Clients can identify likes, dislikes or items that can be useful to calm them.
Often the sections are divided into each sense.
The options available on a ward need to be screened for safety considerations.
An example of a Personal Safety Plan is available in the Sensory Modulation Resource Manual.