[June 26, 2018] Saskatchewan’s registered nurses are among the top five occupations, ahead of even police officers, with injuries by violence in the province.
This is a sobering reality that urgently needs to be addressed – a reality, I have no doubt most of you can identify with.
It’s time to act. Both physical and verbal abuse in the health care sector are on the rise and you have sent a clear message to your union, employers and the citizens of our province that violence against health workers will no longer be tolerated. Once again, I am so proud that you, the more than 10,000 Registered Nurses (RN), Registered Psychiatric Nurses (RPN) and Registered Nurse (Nurse Practitioners) RN(NP) of Saskatchewan are leading change.
Enhancing security, safety and violence prevention capacity in our facilities is of immediate importance. Under and inappropriate staffing, a lack of security, the increasing patient population, as well as the rise of in-patient acuity and complexity, are all contributing to an erosion of safety for both patients and staff.
Equally critical, is addressing the root causes of violence, recognizing that this would require a longer-term strategy – one that tackles the broader socio-economic drivers of the underlying causes of violence against health workers, ranging from addictions to mental health supports and beyond.
The fact is, violence in workplaces, whether it be bullying, emotional or verbal abuse, racial or sexual harassment, or physical assault, effects all of us. It erodes the quality of care and negatively impacts health outcomes.
As registered nurses we know that we can and must be a part of the solution. As professionals, we need to change the way we view violence and reject violence as a normal part of the job. In short, we can no longer “normalize” violence as something that simply “goes with the territory of our work”. Job postings that stipulate “some violence is to be expected with this position” must become a relic of the past.
The simplest and most effective way to achieve this shift in mindset is timely and consistent reporting of all incidences, regardless of whether they resulted in injury or not. SUN has undertaken several initial steps to help underscore why reporting is so important, as well as to give you the tools to know what to do if you experience any violence.
I will be appearing in a short educational video on behalf of our union as part of the Saskatchewan Association for Safe Workplaces in Health’s (SASWH) “I Will Report” campaign. The goal of the campaign is to increase the reporting of violence and aggression to build a stronger culture of safety; promote the adoption of effective violence prevention initiatives; and prevent injuries caused by violence and acts of aggression.
Increased reporting is key to closing the gaps that put providers at risk. Consistent reporting will accurately inform us about the scale of the problem as well as what needs to change at a policy level with employers and at an Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) legislation level with government. Timely and accurate reporting is also critical to identifying specific “problem areas” where health workers may be most at risk and require additional supports or new approaches to curbing violence.
Turning the tides on the growing violence in health care, is going to take a wholesale shift in our collective mindset. This will require action at multiple levels from individual health workers committing to report, to fellow unions, safety associations, employers and government working together to make your workplaces safer.
SUN is committed to working with all these stakeholders to guarantee you, our members, have all the tools, protections and supports in place in place to ensure violence no longer has a place in your work environments.
Please always remember that you have the right to work and practice in an environment that is free from any form of violence – a workplace where violence is not tolerated as a part of your job.