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Keywords:

  • aggression;
  • nursing;
  • older people;
  • violence

Background.  Reported rates of workplace violence are increasing and studies of violence and aggression to health service staff in the United Kingdom have largely focused upon mental health and accident and emergency units. The study of violence and aggression in other specialties has been neglected. This paper reports the findings from a survey of staff perceptions of training and support in an elderly care and head injury unit.

Aims and objectives.  Staff in a care of older people and head injury unit, half of whom were nurses, were surveyed to identify their experiences of violence and aggression in the workplace, their receipt of training, the relevance of training and knowledge of support services.

Methods.  An anonymous semi-structured questionnaire was sent to all nursing, therapy and psychology staff in the unit. Quantitative data were analysed by SPSS and content analysis was adopted for the qualitative data.

Results.  Just over half the participants had experienced an incident of violence or aggression in the past 12 months. Training was judged to be relevant by almost 90% of respondents but was not always delivered in line with trust guidance. Staff who had been involved in incidents were more likely to identify training needs. A higher percentage of nurses than other professions were involved in incidents, but they were not as aware of the staff support department as other professional groups.

Conclusions.  The findings indicate that care of older people and head injury units should examine more closely the delivery of staff training on violence and aggression, and invite staff to identify their training needs. A national survey of approaches to staff support may be worthwhile.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Staff who had received training judged it to be relevant to their working situations, but outstanding training needs should be identified and addressed. Confidential staff support facilities should be well publicized.