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Client to Staff Abuse in an Iowa ICF/MR

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  • Client to Staff Abuse in an Iowa ICF/MR

    I'm not sure if this is covered under labor laws or not, but it's worth a try.

    For the last year I have worked in an ICF/MR facility (Intermediate Care Facility for the Mentally Retarded) that houses 7 clients (residents). We have a client who becomes extremely violent to the point of endangering other clients' and staff lives. This client has sent multiple staff to the ER with injuries that include bites, entire sections of hair ripped out, deep scratch wounds (to the point of requiring medical care), and multiple other injuries. Thankfully no other clients have been injured to this extent, but staff go to work on a daily basis in fear of severe harm and now even fear of being killed by this client as recently the client grabbed a staff by throat and slammed her against the van and continued to choke her until the other staff were able to pull her off.

    My coworkers and I have been repeatedly told by upper management that we accepted this kind of work environment when we accepted the position. I have looked all through our employee handbook and policies of our company and have not found anywhere that it states that we accept that we will deal with this severe of client aggression.

    I know the laws concerning client to client abuse, but am unable to find anything about client to staff abuse/assault. Do we really have to just put up with life threatening violence on an almost daily basis?

  • #2
    I was the HR Manager for an RCF/MI facility and I can tell you that I could never find anything that would protect the employee. If you are injured you are covered under WC. I can tell you that I have had employees that quit after being severly injured (broken bones or needed stitches) that received unemployment but I have also had ones that were denied unemployment. Unfortunally it is the nature of the job and we did try to manage staff/client personalities as much as possible to ensure a "happy" environment but it didn't always work.

    My biggest piece of advice is to make sure you are up to date with your PIA (or Mandt or whatever they may be using) as the state will come in and investigate any client injury and you want to do what you can to protect your working relationships with your clients.


    • #3
      Sorry but I'm not aware of anything either. Where I work we have students who frequently act out, often because they can not help it, and there is little that can be done. I have heard of charges being pressed in cases of concious attacks, but your success rate is very low as the judicial system is not in the habit of prosecuting those who are unable to control their own actions because of a disability. Not knowing the extent to which this person has control or how the attacks come about, I really can't say if there is any recourse there or not.

      You might speak with this clients' health care provider and make sure that he/she is aware of the frequency and severity of the attacks as it may be that there is something that needs to be done from a treatment perspective.
      I post with the full knowledge and support of my employer, though the opinions rendered are my own and not necessarily representative of their position. In other words, I'm a free agent.


      • #4
        I doubt you will find anything either.
        In general, it is understood that when dealing with people who are challenged, that there will be times when they react inappropriately, even violently. You wont find it in a policy, but you may exposed to body fluids also. Its the same type of thing.

        There is no way to protect workers from this on a 100% basis. Your clients cant be disciplined by as an employee would or be legally punished.

        I do agree that if the violace is that egregious, perhaps some modification of medication or treatment is needed.
        I find that the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.
        Thomas Jefferson