Karen Jackson, UPSE's President, spoke today at the Health PEI Leaders Community Meeting. Her goal was to bring awareness to the leadership of Health PEI about the increase in frequency and severity of workplace violence. She explained that "UPSE members play an integral role in providing care to patients, and because of their level of interaction with them they are the primary victims of this violence. To make matters worse many of our members feel unsupported by their management teams. In some cases members have stopped filing incident reports because they have seen a lack of response to others members who have done due diligence. The fact that violence is the number two reason for incident reports speaks volumes."
Jackson stressed that "it is not part of your job to go to your workplace knowing full well that if you are assigned to a certain patient or resident that there is a high likelihood you are going to be assaulted. It not only affects our members physically, but having to deal with this, feeling unsupported by your employer, is affecting our members psychologically." She said she "completely understands that workplace violence is a complex issue and does not have an easy solution. However, there is a clear obligation for the employer to provide a safe workplace to protect workers from violence and abuse, and to have supports in place to deal with these issues."
UPSE's President believes there must be a shift from a culture reacting to violence in the workplace, to a culture of violence prevention. She said that "prevention protects workers, improves patient care and makes the care environment a more positive place. Education is also important. We need to help educate the public on what's acceptable when they go into a health care institution. All members are asking for is to be heard, and to be respected for the role they play every day as frontline caregivers, and for the employers to be supportive when workers are faced with these issues."
Jackson stated that she would like to be part of the solution, to ensure her members have a safe workplace free from violence and abuse. She pointed to staffing ratios and security as key concerns that could be part of the solution. She also thanked UPSE members Matt Speight, Lindsey Doucette and Chrissy Murphy for sharing their valued input, and Tanya Tynski for the opportunity to speak at the meeting. Jackson concluded by saying that "we have discussed these issues long enough and now is the time to take action before someone is seriously injured or worse."
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