“This is the type of work you have signed up for so get over it.”

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It is bad enough that nurses experience abuse and violence at work, but it is entirely shameful when management disregard concerns and treat it as ‘business as usual’.

Ensuring safe nurse-to-patient ratios in Aged Care will make a huge difference to the lives of many nurses, residents and their families. Tell us your aged care story here.

I recently read a number of articles on Nurse Uncut about nursing staff getting abused at work and I can really relate to this.

I am an endorsed enrolled nurse in an aged care setting and I get physically and verbally abused at my workplace on a daily basis by the residents I care for. No matter how many incident forms or behaviour charts I fill out, management does nothing about it.

When I have personally spoken to management about these issues, the response I get is basically that they have dementia and this is the type of work you have signed up for so get over it.

I come home in tears thinking I couldn’t possibly work another shift doing that job in that facility but then my hands are also tied because I, as every other person does, have financial commitments to worry about.

I have been victim to bites, scratches, pinches, punches, slaps, kicks, hair pulls, water thrown on me and spitting in my face. I have come home with open wounds from sharp nails and the scars remain as a constant reminder. I have been called every name under the sun.

I think over time I have become a bit numb to the physical and verbal abuse and have learned to brush it off my shoulder. I often just accept that it is ‘normal’ in my field of work and I have gotten over it. But every chance I get to sit down and really think about what has happened to me at work, I quickly remember how wrong it is and I wonder why these behaviours are ignored.

I am a young female, who would never ever reply to an article like this, I hate confrontation and even now as I am writing it, I feel sick in my stomach wondering if this really is the right thing to do but I truly believe that no one should have to go to work and expect to be abused in any form – it is not ‘normal’.

The NSWNMA Report into Elder Abuse in Residential Aged Care found 90% of staff have been subject to some form of aggression from residents and 61% fear repercussions if they report the abuse.

If you have an experience you’d like to share, please get in touch here: nurseuncut@nswnma.asn.au. Whether it was something that occurred in a single shift or about you’re entire career so far, we want to know.

2 COMMENTS

  1. This breaks my heart. For you and your residents. As a nurse myself it’s sounds at the very least your residents pain is not managed which is why they are lashing out.
    Where I work we review every case of physical aggression for the triggers and any care that night have been missed leading up to the event
    I hope you one day find a place that will take your concerns seriously to help the residents and yourself.

  2. Hi I am sorry you went through what you did. I have been working in aged care since 2003, first as a carer then as a nurse. I have been assaulted a number of times working in aged care from time to time, usually in relation to misunderstandings. One cannot help but feel for the residents with dementia who is now acting out however so I don’t report it as management is also usually next to useless as they care about residents relatives not us or the resident. And I find with self awareness and reflection I have seen the resident in this light and overcome this. I am lucky to currently work in a home that seems to care about residents but this did not happen until recently (I have been there since 2014 and have been pushing for it although I have my moments). So please persevere. The next tip I have is to try working in disability. They have better conditions, better pay but greater self autonomy for clients and more say in everything even though like in aged care, taxpayers fund it, so it can have its moments. But overall a good balance I think so try it. Please remember it is generally not personal. And management can make you feel like crap because they do not care about staff (which they are supposed to but sometimes I know they don’t). There is a Dementia Essentials training you can do if you already work in aged care. It is run by Dementia Australia and details are on website. It is also free. Please don’t take it personally. They are people and most are lovely. Like us they are growing through an enormous amount of change let alone giving up everything they know to be here so we need to cut them some slack too. Hope my tips help. See you around the trsps

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