Working at a residence for the elderly can be a rewarding experience; it can also be challenging and even dangerous when working with patients whose behavior is affected by advancing Alzheimer’s disease, psychiatric problems or medications that alter moods. For the safety of staff as well as patients, it is important to train your staff to understand the basic strategies to employ when engaging with a patient who is exhibiting challenging behavior. Such training will not only facilitate better communication between workers and residents, it can also help reduce senior living facilities insurance claims that may result from altercations between patients and staff.
First, make sure staff is educated about the common illnesses or disorders that the elderly must contend with. Understanding the issues will help workers identify (and avoid) the triggers that might bring on episodes of aggression in patients. The most frequently reported types of resident to employee violence include hitting, acting out, biting, grabbing or scratching, pushing, or breaking and even throwing objects. Next, employees must be educated about how to defuse situations in which residents are exhibiting aggressive behavior. A process should be established that the staff member can step through, including:
- Exhibiting a calm, caring attitude
- Maintaining a polite demeanor
- Actively listening to convey to the resident that he or she is being heard
- Speaking slowly in a clear voice that the resident can hear
- Acknowledging the resident’s feelings with words that show the worker understands the issue (for example, saying “I understand how this can be frustrating”)
- Asking the resident questions to help reestablish control of the conversation
- Knowing when to call for assistance before a situation gets truly out of hand
Working in an environment where the elderly residents may become aggressive requires a higher level of attentiveness so that workers aren’t caught unawares should a resident suddenly exhibit aggressive behavior. Talk to a professional insurance agent about these and other risks that may trigger a senior living facilities insurance claim.