Self-defence for nurses – has it now become essential?

 In Blog

Every day there are more and more stories of violence in the media.  It seems we can’t switch on the tv or radio, scroll through Facebook, or trawl our favourite news sources without coming across a tragic tale of an innocent person being assaulted for no reason.   The increasing stresses of everyday life, the rising incidence of drug and alcohol abuse, and the fact that many people appear to be on a way shorter fuse make aggressive altercations almost commonplace.   Road rage, for example, is becoming the norm rather than the exception.

Workplace violence, unfortunately, is also on the rise.   In 1999 the Australian Institute of Criminology ranked health care facilities as the most violent workplaces in Australia, and, worldwide, nurses and police officers run the highest risk of being attacked at work.

There are many situations in which nurses are extremely vulnerable.  Angry or out of control patients and relatives can cause problems.  Long waits in emergency rooms and low staffing levels can cause tempers to run high.  Inadequate security measures such as broken locks, few or no security guards, and poorly lit car parks expose nurses to potential harm.    And of course, the presence of drugs and weapons make a hospital an unpredictable and high-risk environment.

So what can be done?  Isn’t it everyone’s right to feel safe at work?  And if it is, what can be changed so that nurses feel safe at work too?

Physical environments can be improved, such as better lighting, more CCTV cameras, and a visible security presence.  But perhaps what will make the most difference is empowering nurses with the confidence and capability to recognize and deal with potential threats themselves.

Training in minimising aggression is important – recognising the early signs of volatile behaviour and learning how to de-escalate and defuse a situation.  There are usually several stages of behaviour a person goes through before becoming physically violent and knowing how to calm someone down before getting to that stage is a vital skill.

Training in self-defence is crucial – acquiring the tools and techniques to defend against attack could be life-saving.  Self-defence skills give an increased level of confidence and self-esteem, and result in improved mental well-being.

So self-defence for nurses – essential?  We think so.

Contact us now to find out how we can help.