Here’s a story from a former care aide attendant who worked in a group home for young and middle-aged adults. Residents at the group home lived with cognitive and physical disabilities, mental illness, and dual diagnosis (i.e. addiction and mental illness together).
“As far as safety goes, it’s a tough slog, that’s for sure,” said my friend, who I’ll call Joan.
Some aspects of the job were rewarding, but there were also many risks, such as exposure to bodily fluids, getting bitten, overexertion from lifting people, and emotional stress. Yet in addition to watching out for their own safety, Joan and her coworkers had to take special precautions with residents whose behaviours could endanger the public.
“There were some people who had track records of being violent in the community and we had to keep those incidents to a minimum,” she said. “It was not possible or considered humane to keep them in the house 24/7, so we were required to get them out of their homes regularly.”
Joan told me about one resident who was assigned two workers when he went out.
“He would stare at children and young women… and on occasion he would bolt out to chase them, trying to touch them,” Joan said. Doctors prescribed hormones and medications in the hopes of curbing the man’s behaviours, but staff had to remain diligent to keep the public safe.
“We had permission to escort him with physical non-violent crisis management which would require two people to wrangle him if needed in very extreme cases,” she said.
Eventually the man was relocated to a rural setting where he could get outside more often with less risk to the public – and Joan moved into a new job in the employment assistance field, which she says is “much safer.”
I have a lot of admiration for people who do this work, and I thank Joan for telling me about her experiences. Do you have a workplace danger story? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.