Keeping staff safe, disrespectful behaviour and abuse including aggression and violence

Derbyshire House exercises its duty to care to keeps its staff safe from abusive behaviour and risks of being harmed by people who visit and use or service and “third parties” in the course of their work. Third parties include relatives, friends, advocates, visiting professionals, suppliers, tradespeople and contractors. There are separate policies and procedures for addressing abuse to and from colleagues in the workplace which is usually misconduct and addressed through our disciplinary procedures.

Derbyshire houses’ default position is that its staff should always be treated courteously and with respect for the work they are doing and should not be subject to abusive behaviour in any form which includes: –

  • Rude, disrespectful and offensive behaviour, including derogatory remarks and disruptive acts amounting to verbal and emotional abuse
  • Sexually inappropriate comments and behaviour
  • Racist and discriminatory abuse
  • Threats of physical violence
  • Aggressive and violent behaviour

Derbyshire house considers that staff should be safe at work and should no be exposed to undue or unreasonable behaviour risk. We believe that staff must work safely, free from threat of injury or distress from the abusive behaviour of others. We will not tolerate abuse in any shape or form and will investigate all reported or observed incidents of staff being subject to disrespectful behaviour.

Physical attacks on staff at work are, fortunately, very rare and Derbyshire house minimises these risks by being a home that is not able to cater for those with challenging or aggressive behavioural needs. Verbal abuse is more common and can cause considerable emotional distress. The home recognises that its staff could be subject to some form of abuse at any time and recognises its duty to ensure that staff are properly supported to deal with any incident.

Approach to keeping our staff safe

This policy applies to all staff in contact with people who use our service as defined above, and is written in line with the health and safety requirements and guidance such as found in the health and safety executives health and safety in care homes (HSG220). Skills for care guidance, (2013) work smart, work safe: combating violence against care staff – a guide for employers, and safeguarding regulations and requirements.

  1. Derbyshire house expects everyone in contact with its staff to treat them politely and respectfully and not to subject them to any form of abuse. We have a zero-tolerance approach to any form of abuse, which applies to our staff and our residents
  2. Staff should report to the senior on duty or the manager any incident in which they or colleagues have been subject to disrespectful or abusive behaviour from residents or third parties. They should also record the incident with full factual information in terms of what was said or done and with as much supporting evidence as possible from witnesses, this could include photographic or video evidence, if it has been obtained.
  3. The senior staff and/or the manager will discuss the harm caused by and the risks of further harm to those subject to such behaviour and decide on the actions to be taken, which will depend on the form and the seriousness of the disrespectful or abusive behaviour. They will act proportionately to and in line with any assessments completed.
  4. Residents persistent abuse of staff could amount to breach of contract. Third parties’ abusive behaviour could result in Derbyshire house entering constructive discussions to avoid recurrence, issuing verbal or written warnings or taking action to prevent the person(s) from being in a position to be able to continue their abusive behaviour. Any action will be recorded and a full explanation given to the perpetrator.
  5. Visitors who act in an abusive manner towards staff may be asked to leave and could be told that they could be prevented from visiting the home f their behaviour and attitude does not alter
  6. Staff will always work to minimise the risk of abuse, aggressive and violent behaviour. They are encouraged to adopt a confident, calm, professional, dignifies approach in response to any disrespectful, impolite or overtly abusive behaviour.
  7. Staff are expected to avoid retaliating to others’ abusive behaviour in kind other than to protect their own safety, for example, where being physically attacked. This is important to allow for constructive solutions to be found, to avoid escalation and counter charges, which could make them subject to disciplinary procedures
  8. Any behavioural issues that are identifies will be logged within care plans and necessary plans put into place. Any behavioural issues will result in a behavioural chart so that we are able to identify any triggers if there are any

Responding to verbal abuse and disrespectful behaviour

  1. The issues concerning residents who are persistently disrespectful to care staff, including racist abuse, will be addressed through their care plans and contracts of residence. Though the home accepts that any abuse should not be tolerated we also recognise that there are often underlying factors behind individuals’ behaviours and will always seek constructive solutions
  2. Staff who are subject to abuse from third parties should refrain from being abusive in retaliation but are entitled to say how they feel about being the recipient of abuse such as “I am hurt by what you are saying or your manner” “I do not think you should talk to me like that” “I find what you are calling or saying to me offensive”
  3. When staff feel they are subject to such abuse they should state they will report it and indicate that the matter will be followed up. They might also direct the person to address any concerns about a resident’s care that might have triggered an abusive outburst to the management or file a complaint
  4. The manager will consider any report and decide on appropriate actions to be taken, which might involve: –
    • Discussions with the perpetrator to ask for more respect from them
    • Directing any concerns through the complaint’s procedure
    • A verbal followed by a written warning for persistent abusive conduct
    • A written agreement to stop being abusive
    • A proportionate and appropriate sanction expressed put down in writing that provided suitable safeguards for staff but which does not penalise unfairly any resident with whom the perpetrator might be involved
  1. All actions will be recorded and subject to review

Responding to violent situations

In the unlikely event of a violent or aggressive incident, staff should adhere to the following procedure: –

  1. The priority of staff must be for their own safety and for the safety of other staff and residents
  2. Staff should try to summon help immediately, preferably the senior in charge or the manager. In most cases this can be done by mobile phone, call bell emergency buzzer
  3. Staff should try to calm the situation wherever possible, talking to the potential aggressor calmly, trying to find out what is wrong and pointing out how their behaviour is affecting people – staff should try not to get angry and should never shout back
  4. Where the level of threat continues to increase and staff feel they are in imminent danger they should try to escape (with others who are in danger) and get help
  5. Staff who are being assaulted may defend themselves but they must only use the reasonable minimum force to do this
  6. In the event of an actual physical assault, or if the incident involves an intruder to the home, then the police should be called as soon as possible

Physical intervention

Staff must always deal with behaviour that challenges them calmy and professionally. Physical and verbal aggression by a resident should be understood by staff and dealt with appropriately.

In the event of an aggressive incident staff should summon help or call the police. They should try to de-escalate incidents, wherever possible, and their priority should be for their own safety and the safety of other people present. Physical interventions should be used only as a last resort.

If a member of staff is attacked, they are permitted to use “minimum reasonable force” to defend themselves. Care should therefore be taken to ensure minimum force is indeed used and that residents who are acting in an aggressive or threatening manner are not subject to undue restraint.

The law gives protection to people from being abused or attacked and, if a member of staff is attacked, they can use “minimum reasonable force” to defend themselves. However, staff should remember that if they restrain a violent person and injure them because of the force they use, they could be charged with assault. Because of this risk staff should always follow the established procedure


Reporting and support

  1. Any verbally abusive or violent behaviour towards staff (or volunteers), no matter how minor, must be reported to the senior or manager, and recorded in the incident book or within the behavioural charts in the individuals care plan
  2. Any staff involved should submit an incident form where required
  3. Appropriate support will be offered by management to employees who are subject to abuse and who are emotionally distressed as a result and to any staff member involved in violent or aggressive incidents
  4. Violent aggressive incidents, even if they just amount to being shouted at, can be very upsetting for a member of staff and in extreme cases, can lead to them suffering physiological trauma or illness – staff will be given the opportunity to discuss their experience with the senior or the manager
  5. In extreme cases, the home understands that there may be a need for ongoing support and referral to professional counselling
  6. Where absence from work, arises from a violent or aggressive incident, any such absence will be treated as special leave rather than sickness absence
  7. Where required, Derbyshire house will notify the health and safety executive under RIDDOR reporting procedures if the injuries meet the criteria.
  8. If a resident has been harmed, Derbyshire house will refer the matter to the local safeguarding authority and the care quality commission under their notification procedures

Derbyshire house will always seek the approval and consent of the member of staff attacked before making any decision about reporting the incident to the police or other authorities. However, it will report the matter without the victims consent where we deem this to be the correct action to take in the public interest or to protect other people from possible abuse


The appropriate senior or manager, will review all reports of aggression and violence or potential aggression and violence and look for any trends or patterns or lessons learned.

Managers will carefully monitor all incident reports relating to violence or the use of restraint to ensure that both staff and residents are being appropriately protected. Any suspicion of abuse by staff or by others, or any whistleblowing by other staff, will be acted upon in accordance with the homes safeguarding policy.

Relevant training will be provided to all staff that require it.