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Violence against healthcare workers: Safety tips for delivering care in the home

Home health and hospice workers primarily work alone in remote situations, which can be dangerous due to unpredictability, decreased control of their work environment, and lack of policies and procedures.

Common workplace violence for home health workers includes acts of incivility, bullying, verbal abuse, physical assault, and even sexual harassment. In fact, about 18 to 65% of home-based care workers have experienced verbal abuse from patients, and between 2.5 and 44% of workers have reported being physically assaulted on the job (according to data reviewed by the CDC).

With this being one of the fastest-growing occupations — with a projected growth of 34% from 2019 to 2029, and a projected 1.1 million additional jobs through 2029 (BLS Occupational Outlook Handbook) — it’s important to consider the different strategies that can be used to stay safe in these situations.

These strategies include verbal de-escalation tactics, escape techniques, recognizing signs of imminent violence, ensuring adequate lighting in the home, assessing potential and actual weapon presence, requesting pets be confined, finding signs of drug abuse, identifying environmental or community risk factors, and much more.

Here are a few ways to stay safe and vigilant during home care visits:

Stay aware of your surroundings

Many home health clinicians read patient notes in their car before visiting, but when in a questionable neighborhood, don’t linger in your car.

Call your patient ahead of time

This lets patients know you are coming and helps to ensure they will be waiting for you to arrive. Questionable people in the neighborhood are less likely to do something with a witness watching for you.

Have a cell phone

Don’t get caught in a dangerous situation without any means of communication. Keeping a cell phone on you during home visits keeps you connected with your agency and emergency services, should you happen to need them.

MatrixCare provides innovative tools that assist clinicians to do their jobs better and to also help to protect themselves.

Request a demo to learn more about our innovative tools built for simplified, safer care in the home.

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Adona Campbell

Adona Campbell is a dedicated Registered Nurse with 24 years of healthcare experience, specializing in Home Health and post-acute care. After witnessing the lack of accessible healthcare in her community following Hurricane Katrina, Adona felt compelled to contribute her skills where they were most needed. In 2015, she made a career shift to the software industry, driven by her passion to streamline processes and enhance work-life balance for clinicians. Adona's genuine passion lies in helping others, particularly the elderly, ensuring they receive access to quality care. She completed her nursing education at Charity School of Nursing in New Orleans and currently resides there with her husband of 18 years. In her leisure time, Adona enjoys movies, travel, swimming, and relaxing at home while enjoying binge-worthy series with her husband.

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