Environmental changes to suppress violence in holding cells and A&E

Acts of violence against police, doctors, and nurses inflicted by inmates, patients, and their loved ones are increasing. High-stress environments such as prisons and hospitals can lead to violent outbursts from those admitted to these types of establishments.

But what environmental adjustments can be made to the physical appearance of holding cells and accident and emergency (A&E) facilities to suppress the violence experienced in these settings?

The concept of introducing elements of nature into such spaces has been explored by psychologists and scientists as a way of reducing feelings of anxiety and depression, suicidal thoughts, and other conditions which may result in violent behaviour towards professionals working in these environments.

The correlation between the physical space and violent behaviour

Violent behaviour from anyone is often a defence mechanism triggered by feelings of severe stress or discomfort. These outbursts can be a result of circumstance, however the physical environment one finds themselves in also has an effect on the level of stress experienced.

It has been proven that outdoor spaces with more exposure to nature can promote calmness and help suppress feelings of anxiety and violent urges. For this reason, it’s theorised that introducing aspects of nature into typically stress-inducing environments may assist in suppressing violent behaviour in spaces where people experience increased adversity.

Violence is displayed in several different forms. People can demonstrate violence verbally and physically, with more radical displays including punching, kicking, hair-pulling, slapping or spitting.

Violent Behaviour in Holding Cells

Violence against police and legal officials in holding cells is an issue many professionals who work in these environments have to deal with daily.

In many cases, people who have been arrested experience distressed feelings when introduced to the environment of a holding cell. While some people react more passively, possibly withdrawing into themselves, crying or acting nervous, others may lash out. It’s the latter reactions which cause violence in environments commonly associated with high stress.

If the police arrest someone more likely to react to adverse situations through violence, the arrestors who place the person into the holding cell are more likely to become the target of violent acts. More often than not, the physical appearance of a holding cell only exacerbates feelings of distress, causing more violent occurrences within this physical space.

Similarly, loved ones of the arrestee may display heightened emotions in the reception area of the police station, usually caused by deep concern or fear. In these cases, these individuals may react violently towards the official staff too.

Violent behaviour in ambulances and A&E

It’s common for those suffering from conditions like claustrophobia to feel stress when they are placed into an ambulance. When one feels trapped and out of control of their own body it can cause violent behaviour towards those who are trying to help. Other violent outbursts are often caused by intoxication or displayed by those suffering from mental health conditions.

Out of concern for their ill or impaired loved one, those accompanying patients also experience heightened levels of stress and anxiety, meaning they too are prone to violent outbursts if they feel the patient is not being treated fairly or ignored. While this may not be the case, stressful situations cause people to perceive the scenario through a very self- centered lens which would cause more stress in a busy hospital setting.

These feelings cause violent outbursts against doctors, nurses, paramedics and secretarial staff on either micro-aggressive or highly aggressive levels.

The Calming Effects of Nature

When one thinks about the environments in the examples mentioned prior, they conjure up images of harsh, concrete rooms, bland hospital interiors and places associated with crime, illness, and severe to fatal injuries. There are usually no windows in these spaces and access to nature is extremely limited. Essentially, they’re stereotypically not pleasant environments to be in, which makes the stress and anxiety experienced in these settings worse.

Nature and the outdoors have been proven to have positive effects on one’s immediate health. Contact with nature helps to lower blood pressure, reduced the arousal of the nervous system and improve one’s overall mood.

To optimally take advantage of the positive effects of nature and incorporate them into these environments, a solution that offers discrete exposure to nature is needed. Sky Inside designs and manufactures digital windows and ceilings which can do just this.

How Sky Inside’s Products Can Help Suppress Violence Against Professionals in Adverse Work Settings

Sky Inside’s digital window and ceiling products allow those who find themselves in an ambulance, A&E or a police holding cell to find the illusion of seeing outside. Digital windows and ceiling panels have proven evidence that suggests people in rooms or transportation with them installed, experience the space in a calmer mental state.

When those who may be experiencing distressing circumstances have visual prompts that suppress feelings of stress and anxiety, there is less likelihood of violent outbursts against those that work professionally in the environment or indeed amongst inmates and patients.

Sky Inside’s medically validated, UK-manufactured products fit onto ceilings and walls, creating the effect of having a window or skylight in the room. With beautiful, realistic scenes of nature, these windows help create calming effects within a space, therefore offering potential solutions for environmental adjustments in holding cells and hospital settings.

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