Care aides guard public from violent clients

Photo credit: Radio.Guy/Adam on Flickr

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


2 thoughts on “Care aides guard public from violent clients

  1. KDD

    This has always been a difficult area Alzheimer’s and Pych are both areas where physical violence by patients is more common that we might think.

    I worked for several years while attending nursing school in a home for later stage Alzheimer’s patients and as an aid was physically struck on quite a few occasions over a few years. Being a 6 foot tall guy I took the blows in stride as an uncommon consequence of dealing with patients suffering from the illness. It wasn’t that common but often enough the female nurses and aids were happy to have a guy around to assist.

    Had I been 5’1 and 100lbs instead of 6′ and 180 lbs some of those blows would have likely done some damage. You do everything you can to reduce the risk and likelihood of this occurring but degenerative mental illness is to a certain extent unpredictable.

    1. susan Post author

      Thanks KDD. I’m glad you were not seriously hurt – another instance in life where it helps to be a big, strong person! My heart goes out to the folks who actually do the striking out because, in better situations, when they were feeling well, they would probably never direct that kind of behaviour against anyone.


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