Preventing physical abuse requires unconditional compassion and respect for human dignity and human rights during all facets of care. In order to prevent physical abuse, this involves providing individualized care that meets the physical needs and promotes the well being of the elder despite the level of acuity or complexity of the care required.
Here are some strategies that the nursing staff can implement in preventing physical abuse:
- Allow the client, patient or resident to make decisions regarding their care before proceeding with the care tasks.
- Do not force ADL care onto those who are agitated, or refusing care. Instead, document the agitation or refusal.
- Allow elder clients, patients, and residents to take their time with ADL care, including toileting, transfers, and nutrition. Grabbing by the arms, or transferring too quickly may result in unintentional physical abuse.
- If you are uncertain that you can safely complete a task without causing harm to the client, patient or resident, you must seek out help from another nursing assistant or nurse before proceeding.
- When dealing with an aggressive or physically abusive elder, do not retaliate if you are harmed. No matter the cause, a caregiver is NEVER allowed to strike back, push, pull, shove, slap, bite, pinch, or squeeze the person as a reaction to the initial assault. Healthcare workers who retaliate to aggressive or physically abusive clients will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law - including losing your certification and right to work within direct patient care settings. Instead of allowing yourself to be harmed when caring for an agitated or aggressive client, you should refrain from provoking them, and document their escalated mood and behavior - your safety comes first!
- Take good care of yourself on your days off. It is important that you take good care of yourself so that you may be both physically and emotionally capable of caring for those in need. It is easy to take shortcuts and risk neglecting your clients when you are not rested and emotionally well during your shifts.