Dr. Margaret Keith and Dr. James Brophy (Blackburnnews.com photo by Josh Boyce)

Report documents rampant violence against long-term care workers

A new study paints a shocking picture of the working conditions of long-term care staff in Ontario.

Doctors James Brophy and Margaret Keith found 88 per cent of 1,223 staff surveyed at seven facilities, experienced some form of violence at their jobs.

An estimated 62 per cent of personal support workers (PSWs) experience physical violence every week, including punching, biting, scratching, and sexual assault.

Dr. Brophy said everywhere they went, under-staffing and under-funding were major concerns. He said 92 per cent of respondents claim additional staffing would prevent violence.

“We also need proper alarms so that people aren’t caught in a corridor miles away from their next co-worker and they don’t have any help,” said Brophy. “We need to have proper flagging, we need to have the four hours of care legislation that have a mandatory regulatory focus on staff to resident ratios.”

Dr. Brophy said 69 per cent of nurses and PSWs acknowledge wanting to leave their jobs.

He’s calling for whistleblower protection so that staff don’t fear reprisal for coming forward.

“It was such a shock to us, listening to this and wondering what had happened,” he said. “One of the reasons it was so unknown and below the radar was that staff fear speaking about this issue publicly for fear of being fired.”

Dr. Brophy said facilities should be made to feel more welcoming and like a home.

The statistics aren’t broken down into specific cities because of privacy concerns.

Dr. Brophy and Dr. Margaret Keith, who co-authored the study called “Breaking Point: Violence against Long-Term Care Staff” are associated with the University of Windsor and the University of Stirling in the UK.

The Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and Canadian Union of Public Employees collaborated with the authors on the research study.

A similar report was released in January by the Ontario Health Coalition.