Violence-prevention training helps care aides stay safe

Continuing care workers learnt to de-escalate when patients are in distress

Many of B.C.’s 29,000 continuing care workers go to work every day wondering whether or not they will be punched.

For care aides and others in the sector, the threat of violence from those they serve is a constant possibility. Much of it stems from patients suffering from dementia.

But that’s slowly changing, as care aides find new ways to approach clients and prevent violence.

Bryan Gay, a care aide at Abbotsford Menno Place, is part of that change. In his nine years on the job, he says violence has been “quite prevalent” but a new training regimen and a shift in culture in recent years has already resulted in positive results.

Gay has benefited from new training from SafeCare BC, an industry-funded health and safety association that works to reduce workplace injuries for continuing care workers. The aim of the new training is to give people like Gay the tools to stop escalating emotional distress in patients before they become violent.

As an example, Gay says Menno Place residents used to be forced to get up at a particular time and get to the dining room in time for breakfast.

“You can imagine – if you’re asking somebody to get out of bed who really doesn’t want to get out of bed, you’re going to run into a behaviour,” he said.

Now food is served 24/7, and residents can eat whenever they want. Gay said it’s all part of a change in approach that puts the interest of residents first.

“It’s become very common sense. It’s become looking at the resident as ourselves,” he said.

Gay has been trained by SafeCare to train his Menno colleagues and others in a variety of violence prevention approaches. He said he’s happy to be able to give the tools he’s acquired to others.

“It’s changed the way people deliver care and I am a better care aide because of the initiatives and the education that I have received,” he said.

SafeCare’s acting CEO Saleema Dhalla said Gay is among 360 people who have received similar training this year.