The third edition of the IOI’s NPM training cycle (first in Riga in 2015, second in Vilnius in 2016) put a special focus on shared learning and on how to optimize communication skills and techniques for the interaction with challenging conversation partners such as psychiatric patients or residents in nursing homes who suffer from dementia.
With this innovative training format, the IOI created a possibility for participants to learn through a practical approach while at the same time upholding the “do-no-harm” principle, which is essential when monitoring places of detention and interviewing those who are specifically vulnerable and in need of support.
Participants were given the chance to practice their communication skills in role plays with trained actors, who are familiar with the psychiatric clinical patterns of individual patients and simulated the patients’ characteristics. After each role play, the actors were able to provide elaborated feedback, thus helping participants to improve their actions in similar situations in their everyday work. “At one point participants even asked if the lady will now be brought back to the psychiatric institution. This is proof of how realistic the actors’ performances were and what a powerful learning tool these role plays turned out to be for the participants,” IOI Secretary General Günther Kräuter underlined after the first training day.
On the second training day, participants were able to observe real-life monitoring visits of the Austrian NPM via a livestream. This once again ensured a practical focus while at the same time upholding the “do-no-harm” principle, as the interviewed clients only had to deal with a familiar and comfortable setting and were not disturbed by a larger group of training participants, which can be the case in a classic shadow monitoring approach.
The training workshop was concluded with a final session of shared learning, during which participants formulated and collected their learning experiences in small working groups. Representatives from the UN Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT) and the Association for the Prevention of Torture (APT) were present as observers throughout the entire training workshop. Ms Mari Amos (SPT) and Mr Ben Buckland (APT) provide their valuable expertise and participants were able to benefit from their input and experience.