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I work in a home that is understaffed and each person works ten hour shifts alone juggling the care of a dozen residents. There is one male resident who is full assist with everything & he seems to be angry about being assisted by an opposite-gender caregiver. And whenever I have to help him to bed or get him up he hits me which leaves bruises on him. I'm as nice to him as I possibly can be, even when I'm hurt and angry. His family is very suspicious of everyone and I'm afraid they'll try to get me fired. I document everything but have no witnesses since I'm alone. I don't know what to do.

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Document it in the chart. Then send an email to your supervisor asking for help on handling this patient and cc or bcc your non-work email. That's about all you can do that will not result in being fired or escorted out in handcuffs.
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I always feel a smidgen of sympathy for all those people who have been caught on camera lashing out against their care recipient, one that has stuck in my head shows a NH employee very roughly attempting to change the diaper of a woman who was repeatedly smacking her (the employee) about the head. I hope these are mostly isolated incidents when someone snapped (BTDT), but going to work and carrying on day after day with the kind of attitude that cak has expressed is a whole different ball of wax and in my opinion is amoral and criminal.
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im sure it happens that staff abuse the elderly in retaliation
Even in one ER a nurse grabbed my mom's wrists so hard I got up to intervene
I also remember a woman working as a sitter in the hospital tell me her mother suffered a broken finger in a nursing home from staff grabbing her but by and large I've seen caregivers Jump back to avoid being scratched or hit and I've seen some pretty volatile demented situations in the past year
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If you were a caregiver and your demented frail elderly client slapped you and you hit him in the head in retaliation you would be in prison before you could say sorry not sorry. And so you should be.

You step away. You do not EVER hit, slap, push, kick or (God forbid) bite or spit back.

The home the OP posted about shouldn't be open. I don't think she's been back, has she?
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The problem with backhanding the patient results in the caregiver being charged with assault/abuse - and you can bet the patient would roll in front of the judge looking as vulnerable as possible...Guess who's going to look like the a**? Worse, who's going to leave without consequences?
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Do not tolerate it. Report this.
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OK, if I were a caregiver, and somebody beat up on me, I'd beat them right back! I'd back hand them and clock them upside their head! I also don't care about being fired, either; I'd blow the whistle on the d*mn joint!
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My mom would get violent at times, but it was always connected to a urinary tract infection. That man may need to have his urine and blood drawn to check for an infection of some sort. In the meantime, refuse to enter his room alone. If that is impossible, turn your phone to record, and record the whole time you are in his room, sound and video.
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It may be he is a woman-hater - there are some men like that - some because they dislike all women & some who think they are too good for a mere woman to take care of them - you can tell by family how he relates to women
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My mother used to hit and slap the caregivers when they would push and shove her. Once I convinced them she was very hard of hearing and they absolutely must make her understand what they wanted from her before trying to manhandle her and they started doing that, she settled down and cooperated. Is it possible your patient is hard of hearing and just confused about what you are trying to do? If he has some sort of dementia, what makes sense to you or I, may not to him. Good luck.
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There is no way you should have to tolerate physical abuse on the job, no matter what your job is. I witnessed it at my mom's facility. It was none of my business what was said to the family, but I know after the incident, I never saw the nurse go in the room alone again. If your facility will not support you, it may be time to seek other employment before you are injured.
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If more people would threaten to pull their loved ones out of these facilities, write a message to the higher-ups in charge or get several very negative reviews on the net, maybe something would start to change. When I suddenly pulled my mom from the large memory care place she was in, the woman in charge there was stunned, and I sure told her why I was doing it. She got nasty with me because I put mom in a regular nursing home, laughingly telling me it would be a "disaster," which certainly has not been the case, as mom has responded better and doesn't attempt to get out of her wheelchair here. The place was just getting more depressing as a whole what with the obviously very unhappy staff and a sudden influx of more bad behavioral type people being crowded into the place to make the folks on high happier with the census, I guess. (I know the patients can't help it, and I know the STNAs there are working hard, just not enough of them). I can't believe the difference in my mother since I put her in the neighborhood nursing home. There are fewer people, and the whole atmosphere is just brighter all the way around. I don't see many residents milling around so much where mom is now, though of course there aren't as many here with Alzheimer's. Mom is very much included in many of the activities there and responds well to it.
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I have found myself in a similar situation in my work. At night there are two on the floor and one senior member of staff in the office. There are 32 residents....I have been beaten by residents about the head, had my hair pulled, had my arms twisted and been scraped and spat on. I have had a resident (who it is widely believed by all members of staff has mental health issues and not dementia) threaten to kill me (this person served time in prison for assault previously). It is repeatedly reported and nothing is done. I am currently off work with work related stress and depression and I feel its worse because there is a massive lack of support for workers. My only regret is I didn't escalate these concerns to someone higher up than the carehome manager before i went off sick. If i do it now it will just look like i am trying to make excuses which I am not... Please do as others have advised, report it higher up following your companies whistle blowing guidelines before you too are suffering mentally because of the fear of going into work....
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I don't know if this is an ALF, but it sounds like this facility needs to hire more staff. If they won't, then you need to have this family move this particular patient to another facility if it's not an ALF. Some nursing homes refuse to handle violent patients.

Have you alerted the family to the violence and what's really going on and that he's hitting you and not the other way around?

Another thing I must ask is whether or not your facility is equipped with video surveillance. If so, just play back any video when needed and even get a copy of it each and every time the incident happens. To some reasonable degree, I strongly believe there should be a video surveillance even in the bedrooms so appropriate people know what's really going on back there.

One thing I must suggest is to speak with your supervisor if you haven't already done so. If your facility happens to be equipped with video surveillance, tell the supervisor to play it back and tell them precisely what time and day the violence happened. You can't keep putting up with this, it must stop even if you find you must get the cops involved even if this is a nursing facility. If he's not in an ALF and this is a regular nursing home or even a rehab facility, then this man may very well be of sound mind and you can still get the cops involved. If you can make a report and even press charges, that will put the family on alert especially if there's video surveillance proving your claim. You definitely need to do something and quick because he can end up hurting you pretty bad if this isn't stopped now. 

What you may also have to do when you need to move this patient is take with you a background witness who can watch from afar. These days we now have smart phones with video recording capability. I would definitely use this as an extra layer of protection and just have the witness bring their phone and just record from a safe distance. That way someone has a recording even if the facility does and the recording may not cover back too far. At very least someone will have a recording on their mobile device for later play back but make sure you also have it backed up on another device just in case some suspicious supervisor decides to take your phone and delete the video. These days it pays to be overly cautious, and you don't know what's really going on in some cases because some supervisors may not be very nice and it sounds like this particular supervisor probably doesn't care about the residence or they would have hired more staff. If they are underfunded then they should be shut down. You said something about a caseload of 12 people, that says enough right there that the facility just can't handle this workload if they have only 12 people and only one worker for 12 people. Don't you see the red flags? I sure do and I can tell you they need to be shut down and what you need to do is contact whoever is up over the nursing homes for your state and report this. While you're at it, I personally would be looking for another job and just get out of there before this particular patient has a chance to cause you serious injury if he happens to strike you in the face or even the head. I don't know if he's demented, has alzheimer's or is of sound mind, but if this were my facility, he wouldn't be staying there, he would be taken straight to the hospital and not allowed to come back to my facility. This is what I would do for the safety of my residence because I wouldn't be able to work if I were seriously injured by one of the residents and I'm the only one there for 12 people. If this were my facility, there would be at least one worker for each resident on each shift, and the facility would be a bit bigger to accommodate more workers. Only one worker for 12 people is definitely a recipe for disaster and that facility shouldn't even be open. If I were you, I would contact the state and see if this place is even licensed, it sounds like they may not be. If they are, check to see what the rules are on the operation but I can tell you there's definitely a recipe for disaster from your description and it sounds to me like disaster is already happening. If this patient because you serious injury from assault, then you can't be there for the rest of the patients. If you ask me, I seriously doubt this is even a legit facility, facilities legit facilities have more workers for the caseload. Another thing to point out is now I understand why some patients are neglected, your story really opens my eyes because some workers don't want to handle violent patients, especially not alone, I don't blame them because neither would I. Being a survivor of childhood abuse,  I know the abuse cycle all too well. Therefore, you can bet your bottom line that this same patient has probably hit others before, even residents. I know all too well when someone's violent, there are other victims, and the abuse won't stop. This patient needs to be moved to another facility that actually handles this type of person and surrounded by staff who are specifically trained in this area. 

Yep, I definitely see the red flags just from your description, I can see right through everything in this place definitely needs to be shut down
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One caregiver to a dozen residents alone on the premises on each ten hour shift... This can't be legal, right? Shouldn't the OP being reporting this situation to whoever inspects and regulates facilities in her state?

Buffy, look for another job.
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Buffy44, every time this happens, also let the Director of the home know what is going on. Is there an on-site doctor that the Director can call to look in on his gentleman to see if there is anything that can be given to him to make him less violent?
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You, and anyone else working there, should not have to be subjected to repeated assault, it should be mandatory that this man is always a two person assist, and management should be giving a stern warning that he must shape up or be evicted. Unfortunately it sounds as though they have chosen to turn a blind eye (you have brought this up with management, right?), so I'd start to CYA, document every exchange you have with this man, include pics of any injuries he inflicts on you. I'm not sure what the laws are regarding video cams where you are, but if you can use video to document all your interactions with him all the better.
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