The Province is taking steps to build safer workplaces for health-care workers and patients by introducing a new security model across all health authorities, hiring more protection services employees and expanding funding to SWITCH BC, a new organization focused on addressing workplace safety.
About 320 in-house protection services officers and 14 violence prevention leads will be hired and will help create a safer environment for staff and patients.
“These actions will help ensure all health-care employees have safe and healthy workplaces, and that the patients who count on them are accessing care in a safe environment. Ensuring our health-care facilities are free of violence will not only help us recruit and retain health-care workers, but it will also improve patient care and continuity,” said Adrian Dix, Minister of Health. “Establishing SWITCH BC furthered our commitment to create safe and welcoming workplaces for our health-care employees, and this latest action empowers security personnel to support these efforts.”
The Province is providing health authorities with funding to establish a relational security model in 26 health-care settings and hire staff to support it. The new model ensures all security personnel have an acute awareness of patients and their surroundings, as well as how to anticipate, de-escalate and ultimately prevent aggression. It is based on trauma-informed practice, which integrates knowledge of how people are affected by trauma into procedures, practices and services to create a safer environment for staff and patients.
All protection services personnel will receive training in workplace violence prevention, mental health and advanced customer service. They will also receive trauma-informed practice training to acquire the necessary knowledge, skills and language to be able to apply a trauma-informed lens to interactions with patients, families, clients and colleagues.
“As Minister of Labour, my top priority is the safety of workers, including those who are working tirelessly in our health-care sector,” said Harry Bains, Minister of Labour. “Integrating this new security model into our health-care facilities will help protect health-care workers from violence – be it physical, emotional or verbal – and allow them to complete their shifts safely.”
Government is also providing $2 million to SWITCH BC (Safety, Wellbeing, Innovation, Training and Collaboration in Healthcare) to address workplace safety. This is in addition to funding of $8.5 million over three years announced in 2019 to establish the organization.
The agreement for a new agency was reached through public-sector collective bargaining and included the participation of all health-sector bargaining associations, the Doctors of BC, the Health Employers Association of British Columbia and the Ministry of Health.
SWITCH BC is leading the enhancement and strengthening of the Provincial Violence Prevention Curriculum, which will incorporate the trauma-informed practice principles that are embedded within the relational security model. This will ensure all health-care workers and medical staff receive standard education in violence mitigation and de-escalation. SWITCH BC will engage with health-care teams to hear their ideas on improving health and safety in their workplaces.
Work to create safer health-care workplaces through the relational security model is part of B.C.’s Health Human Resources Strategy announced on Sept. 29, 2022. The strategy is focused on putting people first by ensuring they get the health services they need and are cared for by a healthy workforce. The strategy focuses on 70 key actions to recruit, train and retain health-care workers, while redesigning the health-care system to foster workplace satisfaction and innovation.
Victoria Schmid, CEO, SWITCH BC –
“Everyone working in health care has the right to be safe and healthy, to thrive on the job and to return home safely to family and friends. That’s why we are inviting everyone working in health care to share their experiences as we refresh violence prevention training. This will help shape an inclusive, diverse and trauma-informed program that better meets the needs of health-care teams now and into the future.”
Kane Tse, president, Health Services Association –
“Specialized health professionals on the front lines of care delivery in B.C. have faced increased hostility since the pandemic, and incidents of workplace violence are pushing these already exhausted staff past the breaking point. We can’t afford to lose any of them. We welcome today’s announcement for recognizing and responding to the importance of workplace violence, providing a significant update on the violence prevention curriculum, and increasing efforts to strengthen protections for the specialized health professionals who protect us all, every day. We look forward to working with the government to meet the challenge of addressing the deeper issues, which continue to drive aggression and violence in the health-care system.”
Aman Grewal, president, BC Nurses’ Union (BCNU) –
“After years of advocating for increased safety for nurses, BCNU welcomes this announcement and considers it a positive step toward addressing the increased violence we are seeing in the health-care system. Between now and the fall of 2023, we fully expect to be involved in the implementation of these security measures and look forward to working together with the government to improve conditions for nurses, patients and all health-care workers.”
Meena Brisard, secretary-business manager, Hospital Employees’ Union –
“These investments in worker health and safety today will help in our efforts to retain skilled staff and recruit the health-care workers we need for the future. Hiring hundreds of in-house protections services officers with specific training in trauma-informed practice will make our health-care system safer for patients and workers.”
To learn more about B.C.’s health human resources strategy, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/files/BCHealthHumanResourcesStrategy-Sept2022.pdf
To learn more about SWITCH BC, visit: https://switchbc.ca/
To learn more about the government’s initial investment in SWITCH BC, visit https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2019HLTH0160-002372
Two backgrounders follow.