Corrections expert and author, Gary Cornelius, joins Lorry to talk about the best ways to deal with manipulative patients. He shares highlights from his excellent book Art of the Con which was instrumental in developing the chapter on staff safety in the Essentials of Correctional Nursing book.
He provides a helpful 3-part description of manipulation as 1) wanting to control or change things 2) by artful and unfair means 3) to achieve a desired end.
Key concepts from the interview:
- Everyone is a target. You have what the manipulator wants – access to the outside.
- Stressed out people are vulnerable. Financial problems, emotional stress, or marital discord can be used by some inmates to manipulate staff to do their bidding.
- If a request is made that you are not sure about – talk to your supervisor first.
- The schemes will start small and seem innocent. The idea being, if you bend the rules for small things what else will you do?
Try the C-H-U-M-P-S approach when dealing with correctional patients:
- C-Control rather than complacency. Be the master of your assignment. Assert your rightful authority. This can also mean saying ‘No’. Always avoid becoming complacent.
- H- Help inmates to help themselves. Instead of doing things for them, explain how they can do it for themselves through the system.
- U- Understand the inmate culture and demographics of your patient population. For example, it is common for inmates to lack stable relationships in their lives and be involved with excessive drug or alcohol use.
- M- Maintain a safe professional distance. Keep the patient’s knowledge about you at a minimum. Don’t accept gifts from patients.
- P- Stay professional and adhere to policies and procedures. Know what your agency expects of you. Be well-groomed and professional looking.
- S- Stressed out staff are vulnerable. Work stress, home stress, or financial stress can lead to manipulation.
Additional Resources on Patient Manipulation in Corrections:
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