Putting the care back in healthcare: SafeCare BC member survey reveals mental health of care workers top health and safety concern

June 29, 2022 | News

A recent SafeCare BC member survey revealed that 60 percent of the nearly 750 respondents said the mental health and wellbeing of staff was their top health and safety concern. This was followed by client or resident aggressive behaviors towards staff (42%) and injuries related to caring for those with dementia (37%).

Digging deeper into the survey results, almost one-third of respondents cited workplace bullying and incivility as a top health and safety concern. Without a doubt, this impacts one’s health and wellbeing, and can increase the risk of workplace injuries.

“Incivility isn’t unique to healthcare. Unfortunately, it festers across society,” says Saleema Dhalla,
CEO, SafeCare BC, the health and safety association for 30,000 continuing care workers across BC. “We need to put the care back in healthcare, because these workers deserve our support more than ever. We owe it to them to continue investing in programs and resources that support their wellbeing.”

SafeCare BC is working with a research team at UBC to develop a new online workplace civility toolkit to help individuals and workplaces.

Organizations have a responsibility to create a psychologically safe workplace. We know that some of our member organizations are already committed to this; others need to follow. Incivility is insidious in the way it can seep in and take hold in a workplace. We’re not always aware of how our own words and actions come across as rude, insensitive, or disrespectful.

“In many ways, incivility poses a greater threat to workplaces than more blatant bullying behaviours”, says Dr. Heather Cooke, adjunct professor at the UBC School of Nursing. “This is because uncivil actions, like verbal outbursts, social exclusion, blame and criticism, or rumour-mongering, become normalized and understood as acceptable. In turn, such actions disrupt the respectful, cohesive and collaborative workplace relationships that are integral to care workers’ mental and physical well-being.”

SafeCare BC is also committed to supporting the mental health needs of the sector. The Care for Caregivers mental health portal and Care to Speak online and telephone chat service was recently renewed, which SafeCare BC co-founded in partnership with the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions.