Nurses call for more security while on the job

Hundred of nurses rallied in Vancouver on Thursday, calling on the government to help protect those who often put themselves at risk to help treat those in need.

Nurses often treat some of the most vulnerable and unpredictable people, who can become violent and uncontrollable, and end up harming someone in the process.  On average, 26 nurses will suffer a violent injury each month, which will put them out of commission for some time.  These include dislocated joints, injured backs, broken bones, and more.  Sorensen says even more injuries are not reported, because nurses want to help people, and will stay on the job, despite it being against their best interest.

President of the BC Nurses Union, Christine Sorensen, says they are demanding trained security personnel at worksites across the province, to help deal with individuals who may turn on the medical staff.

She says they need someone to deal with incidents, so the nurse-patient relationship is preserved.

"We have a therapeutic relationship with our patients, and if we're now the person who's physically restraining, holding them down, that damages the relationship.  So we have long called for additional support that can help us de-escalate aggression in a patient, de-escalate aggression sometimes in family, but not often, usually it's the patient but it can happen with families, and intervene when physical aggression takes place."

Sorensen goes on to say that most hospitals and health care facilities have some sort of security guard, but most are not adequately trained in the right way.

"Unfortunately those security officers often are not trained in maintaining that therapeutic relationship, reducing aggression, learning how to de-escalate violence, help to maintain that calm demeanour in a situation where the patient is either in a extreme pain or mentally unwell, and help to understand that these people need care, and physically restrain them so we can provide that care."

She goes on to say that some places, like the Vancouver Island Health Authority (VIHA) and Kelowna General Hospital, have launched pilot programs where "safety officers", who are well trained and can maintain that therapeutic relationship, are on site 24/7.  Sorensen says every health provider and hospital needs that kind of security for those who provide necessary care.

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