At the end of 2020, my husband was hospitalized with COVID pneumonia. After a couple days in the ICU, he required ventilation to assist his breathing. Two weeks later we transitioned him from the ventilator to a tracheostomy, which was more comfortable and helped wean him off assisted breathing. A couple days after this surgery, I was able to visit him.

During my visit, my husband tried repeatedly to speak to me and grew frustrated at having to repeat everything. After a couple minutes, I realized he may not be aware of what the tracheostomy entailed. I explained how the tube in his throat rendered him silent because the airflow was bypassing his vocal cords. To meet his needs, we were trying to read his lips.

I’m sure you’re familiar with the expression “the light bulb went on.” My explanation helped my husband realize what was happening. It also helped decrease his frustration and allowed him to be more patient while we tried to assist him.

At that moment, I realized how important it is to make sure people have the necessary information to feel safe, to minimize their frustration and to fully understand their situation.

Instead of responding with frustration at someone who is frustrated, take the time to explain things clearly and simply. Having appropriate information helps people feel safe. When they feel safe, they can remain closer to their baseline behavior.

For more information about de-escalation, effective communication or to discuss your crisis intervention program, please contact me, Raquelle Solon at You can also check out this helpful webinar on Effective Communication.