'HSE failing nurses traumatised by dementia sufferers' attacks'
Nurses working in HSE-run nursing homes can be left traumatised after verbal, physical or sexual assaults by residents with dementia.
But the HSE is failing to provide emotional support as they try to recover, the annual conference of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) was told.
While the elderly resident is not at fault as a victim of their illness, assaults can be in the form of physical, verbal or sexual attack, said Mayo nurses Rita O'Malley of Belmullet and Noreen Quinn of Ballina, Co Mayo. "Young staff in particular can be traumatised," they said.
The HSE provides courses on how to respond but once it happens the nurse can be left on their own to deal with the effects, they said.
The nurses said there was too much emphasis on asking a member of staff what they did wrong.
Ms O'Malley said there was a need to have more dementia units for residents where they can live in a short-term basis to help with managing challenging behaviour.
Ms Quinn called for a debriefing for staff who are left shaken, saying this would reduce sick leave and help them cope better.
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha revealed the full extent of assaults against nurses across the entire health system is underestimated.
This is because a report is only required when a nurse is absent from work for three days. "I represented a nurse who had a pretty bad assault in work," said Ms Ní Sheaghdha. "She worked in an emergency department and was grabbed from behind, dragged through the unit, was off work for nearly three months. She did not have a physical injury but psychologically she couldn't go back to work."
Figures from the HSE show there were 7,522 assaults on nurses in hospitals between 2008 and 2018.