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The High Risk of Violence to Healthcare Professionals

Posted by Tina Servis July 5, 2022

Healthcare Professionals are at an increased risk for workplace violence. The Joint Commission estimates that healthcare and social service workers are five times more likely to experience violence in the hospital setting than all other workers. Many incidents go unreported, but the high incidence of violence in healthcare settings has resulted in The Joint Commission’s (TJC) creation and release of new and revised Workplace Violence Prevention Requirements that went into effect on January 1, 2022, for all Joint Commission-accredited hospitals and critical access hospitals. The updated requirements reflect the growing body of knowledge on effective workplace violence prevention strategies and address various types of healthcare workplaces, including inpatient units, clinics, offices, and behavioral health units. They also emphasize the importance of a comprehensive approach to workplace violence prevention that includes elements such as leadership commitment, workforce engagement, policies and procedures, training and education, incident reporting and analysis, environmental design considerations, and security arrangements.

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Why Home Healthcare Employees Are at Risk for Workplace Violence

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Home healthcare employees often work in high-risk environments, putting them at an increased risk of violence and aggression. Find out how to protect your team here! 


Home healthcare employees are at an increased risk of violence and aggression in the workplace due to their vulnerable roles. Nonetheless, safety is essential for a successful home healthcare business. Understanding the risks of home healthcare and knowing how to mitigate them is important to protect both your staff and patients.

A recent survey on Workplace Violence against homecare workers and its relationship with workers’ health outcomes published by The Journal of Medicine shows home healthcare workers reported incidents from patients while in their homes for homecare services. 

Identify the Threats 

Unfortunately, workplace violence is, and always has been, a risk that home healthcare employees must face. It’s essential for employers and managers to identify what threats are present or potential for the employees they work with. This includes understanding the possibilities of violence against healthcare workers from both patients and family members of those in care. Knowing what sort of environment you are working in will help you come up with strategies on how to better protect your team.

In-home healthcare, it is essential for employers to be properly informed about potential violence in order to work towards eliminating it. Carefully assess the risk of violence within the workplace by tracking any issues or incidents that arise and preparing responses before anything happens. It’s also wise to create a written disciplinary policy and make sure it’s well understood – this will help ensure that any violators are held accountable for their actions. A safe environment must be created where all personnel feel comfortable at their job and supported by management in case of a situation that could lead to workplace violence.

Employers should collaborate with employees when it comes to interventions in the workplace. Employee input can be a powerful tool in understanding how the home healthcare staff feels and why certain situations might lead to violence. This can open up pathways for analyzing root causes and collaboratively designing solutions. Employers must also strive to always maintain a supportive environment, both through culture and communication, so that employees feel comfortable expressing their concerns to management without fear of repercussions or devaluation. Through collaborative efforts, employers will work towards creating a safe atmosphere for all personnel at the workplace and identify potential issues before they escalate into serious incidents that could threaten home healthcare workers’ safety.

Employ Safety Measures and Structures to Shield Caregivers from Unsafe Situations

Establish gradual restrictions when necessary, such as limiting the number of visitors to a particular site, or establishing an attendant during periods when home healthcare employees are onsite. Screen people that enter the premises in advance and require visitors to have their bags checked prior to entry. In addition, consider giving employees regular safety training to institutionalize precautions such as buddy systems, early detection, and avoidance of the volatile situation. Make sure they know what steps they can take if they sense an unsafe situation arising.

Provide clear protocols that make sure nurses, caregivers, and other home healthcare employees are protected in the face of workplace violence. Establish memorandums or contracts with families about appropriate behavior when staff is onsite; for example, no one should feel threatened by any display of anger or aggression. Also, establish systems to quickly alert teams when a potentially dangerous situation arises. Finally, consider video monitoring as an extra layer of security while people are onsite.  If a medical emergency happens outside the clinic setting, being able to record and review footage can help to treat the patient safely and protect home healthcare workers from unsafe situations.

Educate Your Employees on Safety Precautions, As Well As How to Respond If a Violent Situation Occurs.

Home healthcare employees need to feel empowered with the knowledge and skills on how to respond if a situation arises where they are at risk of workplace violence. Provide ongoing safety advice and training with clear consequences for those found in violation of such safety measures. This can help protect both users and home healthcare employees from physical, emotional, or psychological harm in an environment where caregivers must exercise judgment on a daily basis.

One way home healthcare organizations can ensure safety is by training employees to identify potential risk scenarios before they occur. By educating your team on preventative measures, you can work toward proactively creating an environment where workers feel safe to provide care while minimizing risks associated with workplace violence. Developing a joint policy between home healthcare providers and service users may also be beneficial in improving safety, as it outlines protocols and agreements that both parties must follow to reduce the risk of violence occurring at the place of service delivery. Establishing systems for documenting and reporting violent incidents can help healthcare administrators better understand patterns in order to assess areas of risk and quickly address any misuse or harm.

Beyond educating your staff on safety precautions and how to properly respond if a violent situation arises, having protocols in place that address procedures such as crisis intervention, escalation of care, and support programs can also be useful. In order to reduce the risk of violence, home healthcare organizations should be vigilant when it comes to monitoring behavior changes in service users; implement regular safety checks; use effective de-escalation strategies in potentially dangerous situations; and prioritize open communication between staff and service users. Social workers should always be aware of their vulnerability while at work, remain cognizant of gender dynamics, and take situational precautions as needed. Taking steps to ensure both patient and employee safety is essential for creating a safe environment where healthcare workers can focus on delivering services without fear or anxiety.

Identify Risk Factors

High-risk factors can include working alone, in secluded, or poorly lit areas; working with aggressive or violent individuals, such as those with behavioral problems, chronic or terminal illness, and dementia; and entering unfamiliar neighborhoods. Employers must take action to protect home healthcare employees by providing them with the proper training on how to spot and respond to potential risks before an incident occurs.

Employers must also look into the patient’s history and make sure that any past violence or aggression is properly addressed. Home healthcare employees should be equipped with panic buttons, safety alarms, and self-defense training on how to deal with any violent occurrences. 

Additionally, employers should assess the areas where home healthcare workers will be providing services, identify any potential dangers, then provide proper guidance in dealing with situations that could become dangerous. With all of this in place, home healthcare providers can rest assured they have been taken care of while out in the field.

It’s important to assess the risk factors that may lead to a violent incident in a home healthcare setting. Employers should be aware of the potential for aggression and provide proper training for their staff. It is also essential to ensure all employees know the signs of a threatening situation and how to react. Furthermore, employers should plan ahead by performing background checks on patients and determining whether or not they have a history of violence or aggression. This will allow employers to prepare better for any potential scenarios in the home healthcare environment.

Learn more about conducting patient background checks!  Know Before you Go!


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