Reflections on reporting in home care
Written by CarePartners
Within the home care sector, many service providers historically operated in an environment that was highly patient focused, and as a result or intended consequence of patient centered focus, have inadvertently tolerated various behaviors from both the patient and/or family members. Further, with care typically being provided within the patients’ home, this environment was viewed as the patients’ personal space and not necessarily the workers’ workplace.
With the introduction of Bill 168 which became law and amended the OHSA with respect to violence and harassment, employers have had greater success in addressing concerns related to workplace violence/harassment with both the patient and/or family members as well as the various funders. No longer are the patients’ actions/behaviours related to their diagnosis for example, deemed “acceptable” but rather, an opportunity to have further dialogue with key stakeholders as to what parameters must be implemented going forward to ensure both worker and patient safety.
In situations where care providers have established a history of providing care to a patient often related to the need for continuity of care, therapeutic boundaries are often blurred; behaviours are more readily tolerated for fear the patient may lose services if situations are reported to the service provider/employer. This is especially true when the patient has no family or friends within their community to assist with their care.
Other reasons for non-reporting or under-reporting can be attributed to care providers who have worked in the home care sector for several years. These workers differ from those now entering the workforce. New care providers often have greater awareness as to their rights and responsibilities related to workplace safety (including workplace violence/harassment) through provincial campaigns (PSHSA, MOL Worker Awareness Training) and enforcement through the MOL during blitzes or inspections.
The employer (i.e. service providers) and funder (i.e. LHIN) must continue to work collaboratively to ensure a balanced and safe work environment for all workers and patients. Engaging key stakeholders (patient, family, funder, service provider) at the onset of service delivery is key to ensuring an optimal work environment and continued encouragement to report any unsafe acts related to workplace violence/harassment. Employers must be confident in their approach, relying on both experience and legislation when investigating workplace violence.