Nav: Home

Home care health workers frequently verbally abused by clients and their families

June 11, 2019

Home care (domiciliary) health workers are frequently verbally abused by clients and their families, finds research published online in Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Cramped living conditions, dementia, and unpredictable work schedules are key risk factors for verbal abuse, which is itself strongly linked to the risk of physical abuse, the findings indicate.

Violent behaviour has become an occupational hazard for health and social care workers, but most of the research in this area has focused on physical assault perpetrated against hospital staff or those working in other facilities.

The researchers wanted to find out how often home care (domiciliary) workers--to include nursing, hospice, and personal care aides--have to put up with verbal abuse, which can be harmful to health and lead to job dissatisfaction and burnout, say the researchers.

The domiciliary care sector is rapidly expanding as populations age. In the US alone, there were around 2.9 million home health and personal care workers in 2016, with an additional 1.2 million projected to join the workforce by 2026.

The researchers drew on 954 responses to the US Safe Home Care Survey, which was carried out as part of a larger study (Safe Home Care Project) on home care aides' working conditions. The responses refer to a total of 3189 separate visits.

The survey collected information on home care worker demographics, health issues, and general conditions of employment as well as work practices and living conditions and behaviours for up to five clients in the preceding month.

Verbal abuse was defined as being yelled at or spoken to in an angry or humiliating tone; being made to feel bad about oneself; subjected to racial, ethnic, or religious insults/taunts; being threatened with violence.

Around one in four (206; 22%) domiciliary care workers reported at least one incident of verbal abuse by clients or their relatives during the preceding 12 months. Around half (51%) experienced more than one type of verbal abuse; one in 20 (5%) experienced all four.

Physical abuse was much less common (7.5%), but care workers experiencing verbal abuse were 11 times more likely to be subjected to physical abuse than those who had not been verbally assaulted.

Older workers above the age of 48 were less likely to be verbally abused than younger workers, which may indicate greater experience and therefore better coping and communication skills, suggest the researchers.

But after taking account of age, certain factors were significantly associated with a heightened risk of verbal abuse.

These were cramped client living conditions (52% heightened risk) and having a client with dementia (38% heightened risk) Other factors included a client with limited mobility and an unclear care plan. And domiciliary workers with predictable working hours had a 26% lower risk of being verbally abused.

This is an observational study, and as such, can't establish cause. Reports were also collected at one point in time only, and potential links between incidents of abuse and care workers' health were not studied.

But the researchers nevertheless suggest that their findings may actually underestimate the prevalence of verbal abuse as recall fades over time, and home care workers may make allowances for violence because of their client's age or health condition.

"Home care workers may be especially vulnerable to impacts from verbal abuse, as the isolated nature of their jobs and requirements of client privacy leave them with fewer resources for social support that can help moderate the stress response," they write. "Approaches to reducing it should be a priority for [their] employers," and could also benefit clients, they add.
-end-


BMJ

Related Dementia Articles:

Digital solutions for dementia care
Telehealth delivery of dementia care in the home can be as effective as face-to-face home visit services if carers and recipients take advantage of the technologies available, Australian researchers say.
Despite a marked reduction in the prevalence of dementia, the number of people with dementia is set to double by 2050 according to new Alzheimer Europe report
Today, at a European Parliament lunch debate, Alzheimer Europe launched a new report presenting the findings of its collaborative analysis of recent prevalence studies and setting out updated prevalence rates for dementia in Europe.
Inflammatory marker linked to dementia
Higher levels of an inflammatory marker, sCD14, were associated with brain atrophy, cognitive decline and dementia in two large heart studies.
How likely do you think you are to develop dementia?
A poll suggests almost half of adults ages 50 to 64 believe they're likely to develop dementia.
Latest issue of Alzheimer's & Dementia
Predicting heart disease might also be a warning sign for Alzheimer's; A new way to think about the environment and Alzheimer's research; Most dementia patients don't receive care from physicians who specialize in brain health.
What multilingual nuns can tell us about dementia
A strong ability in languages may help reduce the risk of developing dementia, says a new University of Waterloo study.
Brain changes may help track dementia, even before diagnosis
Even before a dementia diagnosis, people with mild cognitive impairment may have different changes in the brain depending on what type of dementia they have, according to a study published in the September 11, 2019, online issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.
Could marriage stave off dementia?
Dementia and marital status could be linked, according to a new Michigan State University study that found married people are less likely to experience dementia as they age.
Migraine diagnoses positively associated with all-cause dementia
Several studies have recently focused on the association between migraine headaches and other headaches and dementia and found a positive migraine-dementia relationship.
Apathy: The forgotten symptom of dementia
Apathy is the most common neuropsychiatric symptom of dementia, with a bigger impact on function than memory loss -- yet it is under-researched and often forgotten in care.
More Dementia News and Dementia Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: Reinvention
Change is hard, but it's also an opportunity to discover and reimagine what you thought you knew. From our economy, to music, to even ourselves–this hour TED speakers explore the power of reinvention. Guests include OK Go lead singer Damian Kulash Jr., former college gymnastics coach Valorie Kondos Field, Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs, and entrepreneur Nick Hanauer.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Dispatch 6: Strange Times
Covid has disrupted the most basic routines of our days and nights. But in the middle of a conversation about how to fight the virus, we find a place impervious to the stalled plans and frenetic demands of the outside world. It's a very different kind of front line, where urgent work means moving slow, and time is marked out in tiny pre-planned steps. Then, on a walk through the woods, we consider how the tempo of our lives affects our minds and discover how the beats of biology shape our bodies. This episode was produced with help from Molly Webster and Tracie Hunte. Support Radiolab today at Radiolab.org/donate.