Abused Nursing Home Workers Develop Musculoskeletal Pain
Posted Oct 12 2010 6:00am
Nursing home workers who suffer violent attacks from patients and visitors are significantly more likely to develop musculoskeletal pain.
The Finnish Institute of Occupational Health surveyed 920 employees with a variety of jobs at 12 nursing homes in Maine and Maryland. The average length of time each employee had spent at his or her position was 12 years; temporary workers were not surveyed. Nearly half of the participants reported having been attacked in the three months prior to the survey. Roughly one-quarter reported multiple attacks. Younger, newer staff members were more likely to be attacked.
About 70% of those who had been attacked prior to the survey reported experiencing lower back pain, compared with 40% of those who had not been attacked. In fact, widespread pain across the back, shoulders, knees and hands was three times more common among attack victims than those who hadn't been attacked.
Musculoskeletal disorders are a leading cause of temporary work leave and disability leave, especially in the healthcare profession, according to researchers. The study appears in the Journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.
Two things struck me. First the amount to resident to staff abuse was alarming. Second it underscores what a tough job these caregivers have and what little pay and recognition they receive for it. Though I have to say, being at the American Health Care Association meeting this week, that the nursing home administrators do realize what a great asset they have in their employees and do appreciate them.