Olive: A Wearable to Manage Stress
We spend a fair amount of time working to help the people we work with around their stress, both cared for and their carers. All interactions have more than one participant, stress levels in both rise due to the mirror neurons we all have (see presentation in footer). Managing the staff stress level both during and after the event will have a positive effect on this and subsequent events. It is key to Developing Positive Relationships with those individuals in Distress which is the cornerstone of de-escalate.com.
People generally perceive my work is about teaching staff methods of controlling the people they care for. However my work is really about training the staff how to manage their stress levels so they can assist other people in distress and consolidate a better relationship through Positive Behaviour Support PBS. The carer therefore should never feel the need to use anything that might be considered restrictive physically. Limited stress training, coupled with restrictive skills, that other companies deliver can be more detrimental to the relationships when a staff member next meets stress in the real world (this is a whole other post).
Many exercises from positive psychology have a fantastic impact over time. However these are better on the staff side than the cared for side. If someone is not able to express how they are feeling or manage their distress this simple device could aid us In our work. Ideally we would want to know any information that can help us to assist the person with their stress. No longer would a psychologist ask you to get someone to wear a heart rate monitor on a chest strap, try that with an individual who hates the feel if it! This could be developed upward and initially individuals could get used to it like a watch strap.
This device could aid behaviour support planning, reactive strategies etc. Perhaps give us early warning signs as to when rules, and the pressure of conforming, need to be relaxed. This would stop the power struggle that occurs when humans arousal state rises.
Imagine the member of staff who finds it difficult to realise that they are part of the problem, when distress is displayed, due to their own increased arousal state. This device on a staff member could highlight when it is time for that carer to back off from a situation as their stress levels are leading to detrimental actions which in turn are negative for the interaction making it difficult to be de-escalated and diffused.
Keeping records as it suggests that we are able to record in real time this could be a staple device for the future of developing plans and monitoring people who cannot coherently express themselves. And lead to staff members learning more about their everyday stress leading to them being able to develop and consolidate relationships with those they care for.