HCA Team
By HCA Team on December 04, 2023

The right caregiver support: what if my client has violent or extreme behavior? HCA

How the right kind of caregiver support helps you to manage violent or extreme behavior in clients.

Being a caregiver can be an incredibly rewarding career path. Caregivers play a vital role in providing support, care, and love for individuals who may have difficulty with daily activities due to illness, disability, and/or aging.

With that being said, in your professional career you may occasionally encounter situations involving violent or extreme behavior. Of course, this depends on the individuals you are caring for and their specific needs or conditions. Caregivers often work with individuals who have physical, cognitive, or mental health challenges, which can sometimes manifest into challenging behaviors. Feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, and denial can make even the most tame of clients flare up with unwanted behaviors.

These behaviors may include aggression, self-injury, verbal outbursts, or other forms of extreme behavior.

However, it's important to note that not all caregivers will experience violent or extreme behavior in their roles. The occurrence and severity of such behaviors can vary widely depending on the specific caregiving context and the needs of the individuals involved. 

For example, caregivers working with individuals who have severe developmental disabilities, neurological conditions, or certain mental health disorders may be more likely to encounter challenging behaviors. Those who have experienced trauma like PTSD may be more likely to lash out at caregivers due to their mental state.

What Can Caregivers Do About Violent or Extreme Behavior?

In these situations, caregivers are typically provided with training and support to effectively manage and de-escalate difficult behaviors. They may learn techniques for nonviolent crisis intervention, behavior management strategies, or how to create safe environments for both themselves and the individuals they care for. 

Additionally, caregivers often collaborate with healthcare professionals, therapists, or social workers to develop comprehensive care plans that address the specific needs and behaviors of the individuals they support. Family members can also play a supporting role in determining triggers for their loved ones and how to defuse dangerous situations.

What If I Don’t Feel Safe?

It's important for caregivers to prioritize their own safety and well-being as well. If caregivers feel overwhelmed or encounter situations that they are not equipped to handle, it is essential to seek support from supervisors, colleagues, or professional resources to ensure the safety and best possible care for the individuals they support. When you have exhausted all of your options, it’s better for you to dial 9-1-1 and ensure that they do not harm you, themselves, or others.

How Do I Vet For Those With Violent or Extreme Behavior?

Sometimes it can be difficult to pinpoint when an individual will act out in a violent or extreme way. But it’s important to serve patients you feel comfortable dealing with. The more comfortable you are, the more comfortable the consumer will be with your care.

Here are some questions to ask yourself and about the consumer to determine if they are a right fit for you:

  • Is there a history of abusive behaviors with this consumer? Have they made other caregivers run away? Am I ready to take on that challenge?
  • What was their history like and can I help them to live with dignity and respect knowing their past?
  • Did the consumer simply have an off day? Were they worried or anxious about something?
Try to be a source of safety and comfort for them and it may help you to turn from “hired help” to a valued asset in the family.

It’s the role of the company you work for to provide caregiver support when you have a difficult client

A home care agency can provide essential support to caregivers dealing with difficult consumers in various ways. First and foremost, the agency should offer training programs that equip caregivers with the skills and techniques to handle challenging behaviors effectively and safely. This training will often include nonviolent crisis intervention, behavior management strategies, and ways you can create a safe environment for both caregivers and consumers. Additionally, effective agencies always assign a dedicated care coordinator or supervisor who acts as a point of contact for caregivers, providing guidance, advice, and assistance when dealing with difficult situations. 

Regular check-ins and debriefing sessions can help caregivers share their experiences and receive emotional support. Furthermore, the agency can facilitate collaboration with healthcare professionals, therapists, or social workers to develop individualized care plans tailored to the specific needs and behaviors of consumers. By fostering a supportive and understanding work environment, home care agencies can ensure that caregivers feel empowered, capable, and valued in their caregiving roles, no matter how challenge the consumer.

Published by HCA Team December 4, 2023
HCA Team