Building Healthy Relationships and Collaborative working meeting discussing conflict and story telling

Building Healthy Relationships

James Hourihan, Author

This month the Harvard Business Review printed an article posing the question “When should we work with rivals?”. One of our training goals is Building Healthy Relationships. So, it would be reasonable for us to practice what we preach.


Reading this particular article, I found myself reflecting on over a quarter of a century supporting staff to understand behaviour. In that time, we’ve developed healthy relationships with many of our commercial rivals. Timian first worked with many of them in the late 1990’s. We were brought together to develop the BILD Code of Practice.

Common Goals

We work in a field that is hard to easily define. Timian provides crisis management, physical interventions, positive behaviour support and ethical approaches training. We deliver this to staff who support people in crisis and often the most vulnerable in society. We have a common goal of treating people with dignity and valuing them as individuals.

Clearly, ours is a niche field where collaboration is important. It is however also essential to not jeopardise our respective businesses as well. The word used in The Harvard Business Review is “co-opetition”

Starting Point

Our collaborations are nothing new. We were involved at the start of the BILD Physical Interventions Accreditation Scheme. This included a group of twenty plus training organisations with a smaller, core steering group at its centre. This scheme came about due to the horrendous techniques many people were being taught to manage people in their care. Common strategies ignored communication needs and focussed on controlling people.

This culminated in a move by the government to create a framework that regulated training organisations. The purpose was to deliver appropriate courses to people supporting those in care. Those early days demonstrated the real need for collaboration for the purpose of shared knowledge. This collaboration created credibility for the scheme. When the scheme launched, some of us became assessors. Some of us also piloted the first wave of accreditation.


There needs to be some clear setting conditions so collaboration can provide us with a win-win for all involved. We need a common goal; a compatible ethical base and we need to trust each other. On our Timian courses we discuss relationship building in the first chapter on core values. This chapter looks at the formula for making positive healthy relationships achievable.

To develop trust, we must have honesty, respect and dignity. The key ingredient to letting this trust develop, is time. Time is where we can establish that we are serious and consistent. The same applies to gaining the trust of the people we support.

We don’t just teach this as part of our training, we believe it is beneficial to develop healthy relationships even when it might not always appear to be the obvious thing to do.

Healthy Relationships

This brings us to our current collaborative group of five training organisations. We have all known and trusted each other for many years. We understand the training provided by each of our organisations has the goal of supporting the most vulnerable in society using the least restrictive approaches.

This can have real benefits for the people on the receiving end of services. For example, the training Timian provides for an organisation supporting an individual may also receive services from other organisations. That organisation may in turn have received training from a different training company. When this happens, strategies we put into place must be consistent. In that way, the person we are supporting benefits.

Past to Present

The rivals we partnered with to help develop the BILD Code of Practice are still around, regularly supporting each other to identify potential risks or potential benefits. The Code of Practice has been replaced by BILD ACT Certification. This Certification is based on the Resraint Reduction Network Guidance. BILD Act covers much broader areas than before. Now the certification covers Mental Health, Elderly Care and Learning Disabilities, not just the narrow field of Learning Disabilities.


Because Timian was involved at the very start of the previous system, we were aware what a monumental task its was going to be. Unlike the previous scheme, this current scheme wasn’t as collaborative. The implementation of the scheme reflects this. When processes are a partnership, issues are more likely to be addressed. However, this is not about blame, this is about learning. As discussed during Chapter One of our training. This learning requires trust, respect, dignity and honesty. Once they are in place, mistakes are just that, mistakes.

James Hourihan BScEcon, MScEcon, PGCertLDIS, FRSA

Timian Learning and Development delivers BILD ACT Certified, RRN Approved training courses. Timian also delivered BILD PIAS Accredited training.

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