To those who only visit, nursing homes probably seem like very safe and even boring places. However, for those who work in these important facilities, there are significant risks every day. The nurses, aides and other personal care professionals who work in nursing homes, personal care facilities and similar assisted living facilities can easily end up hurt on the job.
Thankfully, there are protections in place for those who do get hurt on the job. These include workers' compensation, which can offer a range of benefits. The New Jersey workers' compensation program can offer lost wage replacement, coverage for medical expenses and much more. Of course, avoiding an injury is always the best option. Knowing what injuries are most common can help workers avoid certain risk factors.
Mmusculoskeletal injuries and disorders are common
Much like nurses who work in hospitals, those who work in nursing homes and similar facilities often have to lift and move patients. Every time a worker has to physically strain to assist a patient, that worker risks serious injuries. Sprains, strains, torn muscles and ligaments or even damage to the back are all possible due to the physical demands of the job.
Even if workers avoid sudden, traumatic injuries, they may still develop the symptoms of repetitive motion injuries. Those who provide care in nursing homes often have to stay on their feet all day and may perform similar motions with their hands over and over. This can increase their risk of developing these kinds of injuries.
Infectious diseases also pose a threat to nursing care staff
It only takes a second for an otherwise routine part of care, such as handling needles, to create a life-threatening risk to workers. Accidental needlesticks, which can expose workers to bloodborne pathogens, can result in permanent illnesses. Hepatitis and HIV are examples of the kinds of illnesses workers can contract in this manner.
Of course, simply working in a facility with many people in poor health can create risk, too. Workers are also at increased risk of contracting MRSA, an antibiotic resistant strain of bacteria that can cause severe illness or even death. There is also risk involved from handling medicines and chemicals to treat and clean up after patients.
Violence is a possibility, even with the aging
Those who work in nursing homes often deal with elderly people who no longer have full control of their faculties. People with dementia and other cognitive degeneration may become agitated and strike out at those who only want to help them.
While aging people may not be as physically strong as those in the peak of youth, they can still cause severe injury to workers, especially if they use any kind of improvised weapon. Knowing these risks won't eliminate the potential for a job-related injury, but it can help nursing home workers remain vigilant in regard to their own well-being while at work.