Leaders have a unique role in shaping a workplace culture that promotes violence prevention 

January 13, 2023 | News

In 2023, SafeCare BC launched a new initiative called 12 Months of Safety – which focuses on a new health and safety topic each month. This January, we’re exploring violence prevention in the workplace. 

We all want our people to go home safe to their families every day – free from injury and illnesses acquired at work. We also know that long-term care and community health staff face a higher risk of workplace violence from residents, clients, families, and others. Workplace violence is the second leading cause of injury for long-term care workers in British Columbia and the third leading cause of injury amongst community health support workers.  

As leaders in continuing care, you have a unique role in shaping a workplace culture in which employees feel safe reporting violent acts with the confidence that there will be follow-up. And while reporting, investigation, and follow-up actions are critical when a violent incident occurs–a successful violence prevention program stops the incident from happening in the first place.  

Long-term and community care are complex environments with unique risk factors for violence – such as the increased acuity of residents and clients, staffing shortages, and the physical space. But workplace violence is a health and safety risk with specific causes. A violence prevention program should focus on actions that prevent violent incidents from occurring in the first place – rather than reacting to events after they’ve happened.  

Here are some things to consider in our workplace violence prevention strategy: 

  • Do you have strong violence prevention policies endorsed by leadership? 
  • Is there regular and ongoing training on workplace violence prevention? 
  • Is your safety committee involved in violence prevention strategy? 
  • Are appropriate reporting procedures in place, and are staff encouraged to report all threats and acts of violence – regardless of severity? 
  • Is reporting violence simple? 
  • Is violence prevention a recurring topic of discussion with your staff? 
  • When a violent incident occurs – is there a prompt investigation with recommendations to prevent similar incidents? 
  • Is there ongoing support for staff who have been a victim of a violent event? 

The stress, anxiety, and emotional distress caused by a violent event can last well after the incident. The psychological impact of violence impacts not only the person directly affected – but those who witnessed the event, co-workers, supervisors, and families. Workplace violence can lead to absenteeism, mental and physical health declines and burnout. Leading with empathy, commitment, and actions to prevent workplace violence can help to create safe spaces for everyone working in continuing care. 

For more information and resources on violence prevention, visit the 12 Months of Safety on the SafeCare BC website.