August News from Joy Leggo, CEO

Dear friends,

Into the last month of winter and I am pleased that to date we have not been unduly impacted with the ravages of the influenza on our residents and the need to put any of our facilities into “lock-down”.  I hope I am not speaking too soon and perhaps I should be touching some wood, but hopefully as we start to enter into Spring we can keep the colds and coughs a bay.  Thank you to everyone for your vigilance in this area, washing of hands and not coming into visit if you are unwell, all help us to keep MACS “well”.

It has been interesting in recent weeks viewing the WorkSafe advertisements about workplace aggression against healthcare workers.  Whilst I won’t deny that we have not had cases of workplace aggression towards our staff over the years, I was surprised at the high percentage of healthcare workers that have experienced verbal or physical assault.  I therefore thought it appropriate for our Workplace Health & Safety Manager, Jan Braddy, to comment on this issue:

Many people may have watched the WorkSafe Victoria recent campaign ads about Aggression and Violence against healthcare workers.  They have identified that 95% of healthcare workers have experienced verbal or physical assault. Whilst the WorkSafe findings include hospital workers and ambulance drivers/paramedics as well as aged care staff, their statistics are consistent with the fact that at MACS, the majority of care staff have been subjected to some level of violence and/or aggression in the workplace.

Occupational violence may be committed by residents, family or friends and can have a significant impact on the physical and mental wellbeing of our staff.

To define violence and aggression some examples are: aggressive gestures or expressions, sarcasm, yelling, swearing, intimidating physical behaviour such as standing over someone,  physical assault such as biting, spitting, pushing, grabbing, and the most extreme is hitting, punching, personal threats, sexual assault.

Even where violence and aggression is committed by people whose clinical condition may affect their judgement, violence and aggression can never be treated like it is ‘just part of the job’. At particular risk are MACS Home Services workers, who may be exposed to verbal or physical abuse when visiting clients in the home, by clients or family members, and personal safety can be at risk. Those staff are generally working alone in an isolated environment and managing challenging behaviours where there may be frequent exposure to abuse.

At MACS we aim for a culture of ‘zero tolerance’ and developing a positive safety culture where staff physical and mental wellbeing is a priority.  We encourage prompt and accurate incident reporting, investigating every incident to identify the risks and provide adequate control measures. Staff are fully supported and have access to assistance and counselling if required. MACS also has a Visitor Code of Conduct, so that visitors understand that a certain level of behaviour is expected, aggression is not tolerated, and staff understand their rights in order to protect themselves and MACS residents.

Sadly, if many incidents are under reported, then preventative actions cannot be taken. Using the words of the WorkSafe campaign, verbal or physical assault – ‘it’s never ok’

In my eyes, if we don’t look after the staff, how can we expect them to look after our community with care and compassion?

To the residents, families and staff of Annie O’Malley House, we have listened to your concerns in relation to the proposed changes to the AOH day room and will not be proceeding.  Thank you for your input – our aim is to create a living environment that is enjoyable for all.

Thank you to those of you who have donated a total of $14,211 to our 2017 Annual Giving Appeal – your generosity is much appreciated. If you haven’t already donated and would like to help us reach our target of $25,000 for our walking track and piazza supermarket, donations can be made online at www.macs.org.au or telephone us on (03) 5279 6800.

Happy last month of Winter, stay warm and stay well until that first day of Spring!

With warm regards,

Joy

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