This fall Providence Health Care has embarked on a new relational security initiative (RSI)​, adding new Protection Services personnel, known as Relational Security Officers (RSOs), to our current security program.

We sat down with Conor MacPhee, Relational Safety and Prevention Manager, to find out more about the RSI, what RSOs mean for Providence!

What is the backstory on how the Relational Security Officer (RSO) role came to be?

Back in the fall of 2022, Minister Adrian Dix announced a new security model adding protection services personnel to all health organizations across BC.

The RSO role is aimed at creating safer workplaces for health care workers and patients by reducing workplace violence and injury, improving cultural safety and integrating security within the broader health care team. It’s one of the 70 actions in the Health Human Resources Strategy released in September 2022, which includes the hiring and training of 320 RSOs at 26 high-risk sites across the province, in addition to violence prevention leads being placed in each health organization to support violence prevention programs. It also supports the 2023 Healthcare and Social Services High Risk Strategy (HRS).

What does the “relational” part of the initiative mean?

The new relational security initiative ensures all RSOs have an acute awareness of patients and their surroundings, as well as how to anticipate, de-escalate and, ultimately, prevent aggression. It is based on trauma-informed practice, which integrates knowledge of how people are affected by trauma, into procedures, practices and services.

Furthermore, the RSO role will be grounded in the principles and practices of equity, diversity and inclusion, and Indigenous Cultural Safety and humility which will support a mindset of connecting with patients with unconditional positive regard – meaning that despite what the patients may be saying or doing, they will always be seen as human beings first and treated with dignity and respect

How will an RSO be different from the current security officers PHC has?

The Ministry’s take on relational security (and ours, too) is brand new – it is not meant to be duplication of an existing security model. The main distinctions are:

  • The RSOs will be direct health organization employees, and unionized Hospital Employees’ Union positions under the Facilities’ Bargaining Association collective agreement. So, essentially, RSOs will be employed directly by the health organizations and not a contracted resource. A job description has been adopted, based on the current job profiles in use at Island Health.
  • A trauma-informed approach to the officer’s uniform will be taken so, moving away from an enforcement/militarized look, understanding that typical protection services officer or security uniforms may be triggering for people who seek our care.
  • For now, there will only be 3-4 RSOs per shift at St. Paul’s Hospital, and 1-2 at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital. As such, RSOs will focus on building relationships with staff and patients, getting involved in behavioural care-planning, and de-escalating situations before they turn violent. Paladin Guards will continue to provide all the services that they currently do within the purview of their contract.
  • For clinical operations, there is no change to the call number or process. Please continue to call the emergency and non-emergency numbers that you currently use.

Additionally, here is a chart designed to show the responsibilities between RSOs and Paladin, our current provider of Protection Services. 

Does anything change with how I report a violence situation?

For clinical operations, there is no change to the call number or process. Please continue to call the emergency and non-emergency numbers that you currently use.​

What sites will have RSOs? How many?

Providence will have a 15 RSOs and five Shift Supervisors at St. Paul’s Hospital, and five RSOs and five Shift Supervisors at Mount Saint Joseph Hospital (MSJ), for a total of 30 relational security personnel in the organization, in addition to the existing Paladin Security team.

When will we see the introduction of this role into our sites?

We have two cohorts of 15 staff starting their orientation in a staggered approach. The first cohort of RSOs started their duties on August 28, and the second cohort will start from September 25. During their first week of deployment, their training consists of a two-week classroom orientation led by RSO Team Leads. That is followed by three weeks of field training where they learn on-the-job skills and get more familiar with the site, technology and position requirements.


Stay tuned for continuing updates on this provincial initiative, following the start of the second cohort and this team having time to onboard! In the meantime, you’re encouraged to keep an eye out for the new RSOs. Please feel free to introduce yourself and make these new Providence people feel welcome.

Providing the best care to the people we serve is dependent on our own health and wellness. We can’t work if we’re not well, and work cannot be what makes us unwell. For 2023 we are working on a set of actions and strategies that will help us to create a healthy and safe work environment where everyone can flourish. We are also building out initiatives to bring new people to Providence, and keep the amazing people we currently have. If you have an idea that would improve your work life, please send it to Ideas: Forward. If you have questions or feedback about Workforce + Wellness, please be in touch: missionforward@providence