Turning a New Leaf: UKERU at Perspectives

By Sara Porcaro | August 7, 2018

Innovation and progress begin where people are willing to try something new and move forward with a mission in mind. Perspectives Corporation's mission has always been the same: to support individuals with disabilities participate in and contribute to community life as they live as independently as possible. As a result, the commitment to finding and implementing better tools is never-ending, and this summer, Perspectives has brought a new tool on board to best support individuals: UKERU.

In 2004, a private nonprofit organization, Grafton Integrated Health, created the innovative UKERU program: one that focuses on crisis management for individuals without the use of restraints and seclusion practices. Instead, the program uses a series of gentle, yet effective de-escalation techniques and foam blocking pads. Rather than contain and restrict, UKERU, which is the Japanese verb, "to receive," allows individuals to express all of their emotions during a difficult moment--and for staff to receive safely them and better support each individual through them.

Perspectives' New Training Program

Last year, this new approach was introduced to members of Perspectives, who learned what was required of the agency to move forward with this program. Once all preparations were in place, UKERU President Kimberly Sanders Training and Performance Architect Christopher Feltner came to meet with seventeen Perspectives employees this March--six of which were taught to be trainers for all other staff in the months to follow.

One trainer, Program Manager Karen Rogers, notes that "[UKERU] is a mindset change, and it really requires empathy and understanding to be fully embraced--but as I was training others, I could see everyone accepting it more and more with each technique we showed."

A major component of UKERU is that it's based on trauma informed care and an understanding of the mind's responses to crisis and trauma (such as the fight-or-flight response). According to the National Center for Trauma Informed Care (NCTIC), a trauma-informed approach "recognizes the presence of trauma symptoms and acknowledges the role that trauma has played in [people's] lives." This means that DSPs are trained to create a safe, compassionate environment to help support individuals through challenging moments without resorting to tools like restraints and seclusion--tools which often cause more trauma.

Site Supervisor Shaun Kook, another UKERU trainer at Perspectives, says, "I am 100% behind [UKERU]. This, along with knowing science of the brain, gives staff the training that will allow us all to have a safe space to [de-escalate crisis] with compassion and understanding."

Currently, Perspectives' Deaf and Hard of Hearing homes are 100% trained in UKERU, and all other homes are following suit. Trainings are offered for staff twice a month, though more training options are on their way for all staff. By the end of 2018, Perspectives plans to have 100% of all staff trained in UKERU--and beginning January 1st, 2019, it will be the only crisis management method taught in New Employee Orientation.

"The use of trauma informed approaches to de-escalation has been very effective already in our DHOH program," says Senior Director Christine Hathaway, "and the need for actual foam pads has been minimal. We have been working very hard for some years now to reduce the use of physical interventions. We hope UKERU will help us completely eliminate the use of restraint at our agency."

New tools and resources are always waiting to be found! With more organizations taking the leap to implement them, the path forward is clear--and thanks to the research and tools put forth by organizations like Grafton, agencies like Perspectives will be able to walk that path proudly. Many thanks to the UKERU team for bringing these tools to agencies everywhere!

Further Reading on UKERU and Trauma Informed Care

UKERU Graphic Resources
NCTIC on Trauma Informed Care