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Is it really assault?

(59 Posts)
kittylester Tue 19-Jul-16 07:22:43

In an item on Breakfast it was said that over 50% of assaults on NHS staff are by over 75 year old.

Assuming these attacks are perpetrated by people with dementia or confusion, are they really 'assaults'? I'm sure they are unsettling, or even painful, but should they be reported as assaults?

DH and i were talking about it as he works almost exclusively with dementia sufferers and he is 'assaulted' approximately once a week by his patients but he sees it as part of the job - it's not an intentional act.

Mumsy Tue 19-Jul-16 07:39:18

just wondered if 'verbal' assault comes in that 50%, I agree for those patients its isnt intentiol but regardless of the dementia and confusion they are still classed as assaults.

pensionpat Tue 19-Jul-16 07:41:17

When my mother was in hospital not long before she died she was not strong physically, but her normal feisty self. A nurse was trying to do something that mum didn't like, so pushed her hand away. This was recorded as assault. How ridiculous!

Anya Tue 19-Jul-16 07:42:48

I'm not quite in that age category but I have to admit that last week I felt the urge to verbally assault some NHS staff myself. Luckily I held back, but when I tried to get the attention of ward staff to get help for an elderly (even more elderly) friend in hospital only to find all the ward staff gossiping at the nursing station, ignoring the bell, it was touch and go.

You are probably correct about the dementia Kitty but also perhaps the older we get the less we are prepared to put up with bad 'service' ???

ninathenana Tue 19-Jul-16 07:56:23

I do agree kitty one of mum's carers once showed me a bruise on her upper arm telling me mum had assaulted her, I was horrified. I later discovered mum had held on to the carers arm too tightly when she was helping her stand.This was recorded as assault because although unintentional it resulted in injury.
Those who lash out when they are confused by dementia or indeed brain injury cannot be held responsible.

Riverwalk Tue 19-Jul-16 07:57:24

Yes, IMO it is assault if a patient with dementia attacks you. Of course they can't be held responsible but it's still an assault and no less painful!

I assume for statistical purposes there is a sub-category of the type of patient/circumstances.

Nelliemoser Tue 19-Jul-16 08:05:21

I think they should be reported, it is an indication for staffing issues. Not enough staff or staff not properly trained to manage potentially aggressive dementia patients,

Jane10 Tue 19-Jul-16 08:40:49

An assault is how it is perceived by the victim. Of course people with dementia may be afraid and may lash out without any intention to hurt but the person may be hurt nevertheless. Its not OK to be injured in the course of your work. It should be recorded as stated by riverwalk and nelliemoser for training purposes and to indicate staffing requirements.

Nana3 Tue 19-Jul-16 08:49:43

I think you're right nellie, training is a vital issue for staff and patients in hospitals, care homes and home care. Also for local authority people involved with dementia patients.

breeze Tue 19-Jul-16 08:55:09

Agree jane10

If it's verbal assault, it's not really. As they don't know what they're saying. Physical assault is assault but not criminal assault, as again, they can't be held responsible for their actions. You would like to think staff are properly trained and enough of them to cope if someone is suffering with dementia but very strong. It's not a job for the faint hearted for sure. The staff have my admiration. It must be difficult to keep your temper when people are yelling insults and trying to hit you. Sometimes, as has been reported in the press, they don't. Then they are up for criminal assault. It's a complicated business and a difficult job.

absent Tue 19-Jul-16 09:01:50

What about people who are drunk or under the influence of illegal drugs? They nay not realise the full implications of what they are saying or doing. Is that different from dementia except for the fact it is self-inflicted confusion?

trisher Tue 19-Jul-16 09:06:37

Of course they should be reported as assaults. It is important that staff know they are protected and respected.The person responsible may or may not be conscious of how they are behaving but that shouldn't be taken into account when reporting the event. Of course when deciding what action should be taken it is vital that this is considered.
Incidentally it is now also considered assault if a carer or nurse attempts to wash or groom a patient without their consent.

marionk Tue 19-Jul-16 09:55:27

In my opinion these things have to be recorded so that evidence can be put in front of management and government ministries for the need for more staff and better training. If the staff keep 'managing' then improvements will be avoided to save money

GandTea Tue 19-Jul-16 10:05:38

A physical assault, is assault regardless of the mental state of the attacker. Yes they do need to be recorded, along with the circumstances.
Having worked in a care home and been assaulted, you are in a worse position as you cannot defend yourself as you would in a normal assault situation.

Bubbe Tue 19-Jul-16 10:05:40

As I am reading these comments it made me reflect on the behaviours of young children I have worked with, and also my DH who can get quite stroppy with people who he feels are not doing their job properly. I think the term 'assault' needs to be explicitly defined. I suspect its one of those words in our vocabulary where the meaning has evolved. I shall be pondering this today.

Jaycee5 Tue 19-Jul-16 10:07:43

I think they should be recorded as 'unintentional injury'. They are obviously not assaults in the criminal sense as there is not the necessary intent and it does give a false impression and is unfair on people who, when fully sentient, would never have hurt anyone. I suppose assault is quicker to write and may be helpful, for example in arguing for more security staff.

Zena510 Tue 19-Jul-16 10:10:11

Maybe there could be a different word used

Lilyflower Tue 19-Jul-16 10:16:57

I agree with Jaycee5, 'unintentional injury' seems a rational way of defining an action caused by someone not in full control of their mental faculties.

Empathy is what is called for here both for the poor staff who endure mental and physical injuries and for the perpetrator of attacks who is rendered blameless by means of incapacity of understanding.

I would have thought it a prerequisite of working in the care sector for those whose mental capacity is diminished is that they should be aware of the possibility of a patient lashing out. If they cannot deal with this then they should work in another sector. Of course, this might well diminish the workforce which would be a disaster.

Sugarpufffairy Tue 19-Jul-16 10:33:47

I was visiting an elderly relative who was mentally capable but physically completely unable. During a visit a man in his 80s, possibly with dementia stripped naked and was shouting and swearing. While I realise that this could be part of an illness I do not see why I or any other females on the ward or visiting the ward should be subjected to such conduct. The person I was visiting was horrified that I was subjected to a naked man while visiting. Another female relative had as a teenager been sexually abused by an older man. That female is now in a job where subduing unruly persons is commonplace. Luckily she never saw what was going on.
I have always said that dementia patients should be treated on a different ward from physically limited patients. I was scared to leave my relative alone on a ward where nothing was done about this situation
As for nurses demanding to be respected, they have that wrong. You dont demand respect you earn it. I have seen too many failed discharges to have any respect.

HootyMcOwlface Tue 19-Jul-16 10:44:32

Sugarpufffairy I wholeheartedly agree with you about earning respect not demanding it. My experience of nurses is contrary to the 'Angels' they are seen as, lazy is more like it. These degree educated nurses are not like the 'old school' they just want to sit doing paperwork and don't want to get their hands dirty. Neglected my poor dying mother, left in a side room sitting in diarrhoea- dispiccable and I will never forgive them.

Bebe4r2 Tue 19-Jul-16 10:45:36

I would say that it is an understandable, unavoidable hazard of the job of working with the aged population and the staff should be tolerant, patient and accept that this is part of their job, but their pay-packet should compensate for this.

ninathenana Tue 19-Jul-16 10:58:15

SPF the separate wards is great in theory but we all know it will never happen. No space, no staff etc.
To be fare there are a lot of dementia patients who cause no problems other than needing extra personal care or help with eating and drinking.

GandTea Tue 19-Jul-16 11:19:52

Most care home staff are payed minimum rate, I was.

Sugarpufffairy Tue 19-Jul-16 11:25:02

Hooty I could write a book about the poor conduct of nurses and doctors in 20 years of being a carer for elderly relatives. Some are poor ignorant hopeless types some are downright vicious. After 20 years of it I am now an invalid and before I would subject myself and my kids to what happened to me and my elders I will be at Dignitas.
NHS Scotland demand that you dont abuse their staff what about their staff abusing and vuctimising patients and carers. They dont even deal with it when matters are reported to them. I watched a nurse abuse and vilify a young mum in our new flashy sick kids only a few weeks ago.

GandTea Tue 19-Jul-16 11:31:59

Not only are care staff paid poorly, they get little or no training. I went into being a carer with no previous experience and no training, as did my colleagues. The only training course I went on was for food safety, and that was because it was a legal requirement.