Aggression in aged care labour hire case study

This case study highlights the steps agency and host employers can take to protect employees from incidents.

Date last updated

Saturday 29 Aug 2020

Industries and topics
  • Aged care
  • Health and safety representatives
  • Labour hire

Background

A labour hire agency placed three nurses (employees) to work the night shift at a residential aged care facility.

Issue

In line with the host workplace's incident reporting procedure, the facility's matron notified the labour hire agency of an incident in which an agency nurse was physically assaulted by a resident.

Next steps

The agency manager telephoned the nurse to discuss the incident.

The nurse reported that, although he was unharmed, the resident's behaviour had caught him off guard. Only after the attack did he discover the resident had a history of aggression towards staff whenever they tried to change his medication, which is what prompted the incident.

The labour hire agency manager met with the host facility's director to discuss the health and safety of staff, including the agency nurses, and what support was available after an incident.

Outcome

Following discussions, the nurse was offered counselling, which he gratefully declined.

The facility director reviewed the host's induction, training and procedures. This led to a revision of its occupational violence and aggression policy, and changes to shift changeover processes, including:

  • incoming nurses would be briefed on each resident's emotional state
    • any changes to medication would be documented with a recommendation for nurses to attend potentially aggressive residents in pairs
      • conflict resolution training was provided to all nurses.

        Agency improvements

        • Carry out an assessment of the workplace prior to the placement to assess tasks and risk control measures
          • Provide OHS training and induction to all agency nurses
            • Advise nursing staff of the system for reporting incidents
              • Encourage nurses to report any concerns to the labour hire agency as well as the host facility

                Host improvements

                • Provide detailed OHS training and induction, including a supervised shift in the workplace.
                  • Ensure the nurse is aware of the Designated Work Group (if any) and the Health and Safety Representative at the facility.
                    • Maintain regular communication with the labour hire agency, detailing matters such as induction, training, proposed changes to work tasks and OHS incidents.
                      • Consult with agency nurses about OHS matters, including proposed changes which may impact on OHS