For people across all health careers, violence at work is a real and frightening concern. While it could involve someone you work with, this is highly unlikely to occur. Generally, the problem comes when dealing with patients – some of whom may be suffering from a mental health disorder.
Frustrated Patients in Pain
Other patients are in severe pain or frustrated with the quality of care and the time involved for them as they wait to access care. The culmination of all these factors can be that patients become violent and this is, unfortunately, then directed at those working in health careers. Fortunately, there are measures you can take to calm a potentially violent situation and help protect yourself, other employees and also patients who are not involved in the specific situation that may become violent.
Policies at Work to Prevent Violence
Depending on where you work, there will likely be policies in place indicating the correct procedures for dealing with violence in the workplace. Now as well, signs are often put up in highly visible places to communicate to patients the policy regarding staff response to violence.
The vast majority of NHS workplaces have strict regulations and rules to protect employees and patients. Usually, these will be communicated when you first start a new role. If they are not explicitly stated, they will normally be provided in written format. You will be expected to know the procedures and should take responsibility to ensure you understand exactly how you must respond to a challenging situation that could escalate to violence in the workplace.
Diffusing a Situation
Not all situations need to become violent ones. Often, there are warning signs and you can learn how to respond to such signs. This helps to diffuse the situation, calm the patient and prevent someone from becoming seriously injured as a result of aggression on the part of the patient.
Ask your employer about empathy skills training and any additional training that can help you learn how best to speak with a patient who may be experiencing frustration. Where a patient has a mental health disorder, this can sometimes be more challenging. A patient with schizophrenia may, for instance, feel extremely afraid and paranoid that you are actually going to hurt them. Such situations can be very difficult, particularly as the patient genuinely may not mean to harm you, even where this is the end result.
Involving the Police
Where a situation cannot be diffused by staff alone, police should certainly be called. In particular, if someone has been hit and more so if they are subsequently injured, police must be involved as well as an ambulance where medical care is required. A report should be filed and charges may then be pressed against the patient. Most importantly, the patient needs to be in an environment where they cannot hurt another person. For this reason, it is essential that police are involved once a situation escalates to a physical one.
After a Physical Attack
If you have unfortunately been the victim of workplace violence, it can be a scary experience to return to work. Even if you are not severely hurt, it can still be a frightening situation. Many people in health careers who are attacked by patients find it stressful and challenging to integrate back into their health role. You may need to access counselling support to help you talk through your issues and learn how to manage workplace emotions you are experiencing as a result of the attack.
Your Right to a Safe and Healthy Environment
Every employee deserves a safe and respectful workplace. While violence at work is never acceptable, neither is verbal abuse. Usually, however, verbal abuse can be addressed without police involvement. It is critical when you start a new health career – especially where you will work directly with the public – that you inquire about workplace policies on both verbal abuse and violence. You and all other patients you help deserve a safe, healthy environment.
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
I have been subject of physical violence and verbal abuse at work coming from a staff member. It started almost three years ago and it got worse over the time because is never been addressed by management properly.I work in a care home with vulnerable residents and in one incident one resident with dementia has been involved which made me put everything in writing. I was told that my complaint is a grievance against the person, rather than safeguarding and i feel that the investigation is not handled professionally because it will highlight that management failed to ensure my safety and that of vulnerable people .
Staff at work have been interrogated but I have no letter or email as to when is my turn to talk to investigator.
I would like someone to advise me if this is the right procedure because the hearing manager is the deputy manager and she never took any action when i reported previous incidents.
I am in great distress ,the person is still in work and although i feel i cannot continue working,the manager insisted that i should take Annual Leave and ,,don t go down to the sick route".
I am also a single parent and cannot afford being off work and although I know that I am right in what I am doing,I am also very vulnerable.
Can someone please advise me where to call and ask for advise?
Thank you so much.