In a significant move to bolster the safety of health-care workers and patients in British Columbia, the provincial government has successfully recruited 320 new relational security officers across 26 health-care sites. This initiative, part of a comprehensive health human resources strategy announced in September 2022, aims to address the heightened challenges in the health-care system exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing toxic-drug crisis.
Health Minister Adrian Dix expressed satisfaction with the fulfillment of the government’s commitment to enhance workplace safety. The new hires, he noted, are crucial for improving the security of health-care facilities, aiding in the retention and recruitment of health workers, and ensuring patient care.
The training of these protection-services personnel is comprehensive, focusing on workplace violence prevention, mental health, and trauma-informed practice. This approach equips them with the skills and understanding necessary to apply a trauma-informed perspective in their interactions, contributing to a safer environment for staff, patients, and their families.
Minister of Labour Harry Bains highlighted the importance of ensuring safe work environments for health-care professionals, pointing out that the announcement is a step towards protecting workers from violence.
The relational security model, introduced in October 2022 and funded by the Province, emphasizes acute awareness of patients and their surroundings. It aims to anticipate, de-escalate, and prevent aggression, thereby creating a safer environment for everyone involved.
The model also incorporates training on Indigenous cultural safety and anti-Indigenous racism, with engagement and consultations with unions and Indigenous health authorities.
Kane Tse, president of the Health Sciences Association, welcomed the government’s efforts in reducing violence in the health-care system, noting the severe professional shortages and the impact of violence on exacerbating these issues.
Meena Brisard, secretary-business manager of the Hospital Employees’ Union, also expressed enthusiasm for the initiative, emphasizing the importance of the trauma-informed perspective in managing tense and sometimes violent scenarios.
This strategic approach to health-care safety is part of the government’s broader efforts to recruit, train, and retain health-care workers, focusing on 70 key actions and redesigning the health-care system to improve workplace satisfaction and innovation. The initiative reflects a commitment to creating safer, more efficient health-care environments across British Columbia.