FMC’s Trauma-informed Treatment Program Commended

GREENFIELD – Franklin Medical Center’s trauma-informed treatment program, developed by the hospital’s Mental Health Unit (MHU) staff, was recently commended by the Mass. Department of Mental Health (DMH) for having “attained the most effective integration of proactive individually based de-escalation planning in an acute adult program in Massachusetts.”


DMH’s conclusion followed an extensive re-licensing survey, which focused on human rights, interpreter services, and restraint and seclusion practices.

Trauma-informed treatment is an approach to mental health care that takes into account a person’s history of trauma, and matches this history with an individualized treatment plan so patients will not be re-traumatized during their hospital experience. “This model includes specific tools for staff to use in supporting patients, including a de-escalation plan, as we work collaboratively with each patient to help them take greater control of their symptoms and lives,” explained Robyn Miller, MSN, APRN, BC, manager of FMC’s Mental Health Unit.

De-escalation planning is a method in which patients are directly involved in identifying what might cause their behavioral symptoms to escalate and what activities might help them to self-soothe or feel calm. “The staff then can offer these alternatives when the person is feeling upset, or offer other ways to de-escalate such as listening to music, journaling, talking to a staff member, doing a puzzle, smelling a calming scent, touching something soft, or just taking some private time,” Miller continued.

She concluded, “Successful de-escalation planning is key to reducing the use of restraints, which is especially significant when we are caring for someone who has a history of trauma. Our Mental Health Unit at Franklin has significantly reduced our use of restraint and seclusion.”

Praising Miller and the Mental Health Unit staff, Deborah Palmeri, RN, MSN, director of Patient Care Services & chief nursing officer, said, “Robyn and her staff have worked very hard to establish a program that is both therapeutic and safe, and one in which the patients are treated with respect.”

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