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Local RPNs and PSWs calling for help as study shows they endure high rates of workplace violence

"The whole culture of violence -- whether it's physical or verbal, or sexual -- has become normalized," explained a former personal support worker, in Hintonburg.
2019-04-02 violence study PSW RPN long-term care
The findings of the Breaking Point: Violence Against Long-Term Care Staff study are released at the Hintonburg Community Centre, April 2, 2019. Jeff Slack/

A new study shows Ottawa long-term care workers are experiencing violence and abuse, resulting in high levels of stress, making many want to quit.

A poll of more than 1,000 front-line workers, 300 of which work in Ottawa, found that 88 per cent of long-term care registered practical nurses and personal support workers experience violence, with around 50 per cent of those experiencing sexual assaults.

The study, conducted by two Canadian researchers, called “Breaking Point: Violence Against Long-Term Care Staff,” was an in-depth peer-review investigation in which group interviews were held with long-term care staffers in seven Ontario communities. The results were released Tuesday by the Ontario Council of Hospital Unions and Canadian Union of Public Employees.

At the Hintonburg Community Centre, Tuesday, former personal support worker Candace Rennick said she had been a victim of violence, and when she told her supervisor they responded by saying she was "being too nice."

"The whole culture of violence -- whether it's physical or verbal, or sexual -- has become normalized," she explained.

Listen to Ontario Secretary Treasurer for CUPE and Former PSW Candace Rennick on 1310 NEWS' The Rick Gibbons Show:


Rennick believes the reason why violence is allowed to happen at long-term care homes is a lack of staff.

But researcher James Brophy said 70 per cent of RPN and PSWs surveyed wanted to leave their job, which would create an even bigger shortage.

"The kind of care that we expect for our loved ones just isn't possible without a major influx of resources and a rethink about exactly what are we doing here," he added.

Brophy is hoping this report will be a wake up call for Members of Provincial Parliament, that they need to start supporting minimum staffing levels.


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