Health care assistants, the people who bathe, wash, and assist the elderly with their daily lives, have the highest rate of accepted time-loss injury claims of any occupation in the province, and a recent conference at the Saanich Fairground was an effort to bring those numbers down.
The Hearts & Hands Conference for 2017 had two main themes: communicating with patients with dementia and their families, and self-care, which is a hot topic among first responders and social workers. One workshop explored how laughter in the workplace can be a method of self-care.
Stephen Symon, a manager at WorkSafeBC specializing in health care and social services, said that while there are occupations that are more hazardous, like manual tree fallers, health care assistants frequently have musculoskeletal injuries while moving and lifting clients. They can also be injured by violent residents. As a result, WorkSafeBC counted over 16,000 accepted time-loss claims in the last five years, meaning workers are unable to return to work the next day.
“I think for most of them, it starts with team and community in their workplace,” said Symon, which includes positive relationships between HCAs and management, families, and residents.
Symon said that while some conference attendees were managers, it is aimed squarely at workers....