Page 12

E R TU A FE

DANGEROUS HOMES The threat of violence is an everyday reality in homecare work

O

ne day in 2014 was a day like any other for community health worker Corrie. She was scheduled to visit a new “low-risk” client. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary. “He was a fellow that was extremely strong, even though he was elderly,” Corrie recalls. She was washing lunch dishes in the kitchen when it happened. Her client came up from behind, grabbed hold of the kitchen sink on either side of Corrie’s waist and started pressing himself against her. In the four hours that Corrie remained in her client’s home, working, he was able to sexually assault her for a second time. “I finished the visit,” says Corrie matter-of-factly. “He was an elder. How could I leave him alone?” In her almost 25 years as a community health worker, Corrie has seen it all, from loaded guns to drugs - even snakes - in the home. She has been verbally

12

ufcw1518.com

abused, hit by her clients and attacked by their pets. And she’s not alone. Rene, a younger community health worker, says she has also experienced verbal abuse and sexual harassment in less than a year working in the field. “It is an extremely unsafe job,” she says. “A lot of the times we don’t know what we are walking into. We get a name, we get an address and off we go.” There are around 8,000 community health workers in British Columbia. Unlike most employed in the public

health care system, they work in people’s homes, caring for clients who have been discharged from the hospital but need support to live on their own. And unlike hospitals or long term care facilities, the home is an unpredictable - and at times, dangerous – workplace. According to WorkSafeBC’s 2015 annual report, the overall injury rate of community health workers is double the provincial average. The data also show that workplace injuries in the health care sector are not just

UFCW 1518 Update Fall 2017  
UFCW 1518 Update Fall 2017