One in three care providers has had to deal with aggression at work during the pandemic so far, according to figures from IDEWE, the service for prevention and protection at work.
Approximately one in five (17%) of 60,000 interviewees in a contact profession said they had experienced aggression from outsiders in the workplace during the six months preceding the survey, reports De Standaard, who requested the figures for the years 2020 and 2021.
Younger workers and women in particular often take the brunt of it, the survey results showed.
Care sector saw the most aggression of all contact professions
But in the care sector, the figures are higher. “More than one in three (34.4 percent) employees say they have experienced external aggression,” said Lode Godderis, CEO of IDEWE, professor of occupational medicine at KU Leuven and member of the coronavirus advisory board Gems.
“The problems are not new, but the pandemic has brought them to a head,” Godderis said.
“Aggression is a basic reaction of every human being and of all times, but it occurs more often in crisis situations. The pandemic is stressful for both the healthcare provider and the patient or visitor.”
Covid-19 has changed the nature of incidents, said Stijn Van Daele, safety manager at UZ Gent: “Especially what we call frustration aggression has worsened. Those clashes are getting heavier.”
According to various actors in the sector, the figures are an underestimate.
“Many nurses or doctors do not report incidents or no longer report them,” Van Daele said, adding that this is sometimes due to a lack of time, but also the result of not being in the habit of reporting every aggression.
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