It may be surprising to note that nursing homes have the highest rates of workplace violence in the country. Interestingly, while some may erroneously conclude that patients with mental and physical disabilities are being victimized in this setting, it is in fact the nurses and auxiliary staff that sustain frequent verbal and physical abuse.
According to a 2009 study conducted by lead researcher Dr. Ryan Hall of the University of South Florida, 27 percent of all the reported workplace violence incidents in the United States took place at nursing home facilities. Moreover, the study goes on to state that violent instances are underreported, suggesting that nursing homes account for an even higher proportion of workplace violence in the country.
For example, the study found that 70 percent of nursing home employees are physically abused at least once a month. It also cites a statistic that more than 50 percent of nursing home employees have endured at least one injury while on the job, while 40 percent required medical attention after the incident.
"The residents most likely to assault [nursing home] staff are those diagnosed with a dementia or other organic brain syndrome," wrote the researchers in the Hall study. "Residents with mild-to-moderate cognitive impairment are 2.59 times more likely to physically assault staff as compared to cognitively-intact residents, while residents with a 'severe cognitive impairment' are 8.26 times more likely to become aggressive."
Considering the dangers faced by nursing home staff members when dealing with unstable patients that often have aggressive tendencies, it would be wise for facility managers to partner with a consulting firm that can help design a business continuity plan with provisions related to workplace violence.
These professionals can help implement preventative measures to mitigate the likelihood of staff abuse as well as the resources to support any employees that have sustained any physical or emotional distress while conducting their daily responsibilities.