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Spot it! Prevent it!: Program Evaluation Study

What’s the challenge?

There are increasing number of adults with cognitive impairment displaying responsive behaviours that require personal support services to remain safely at home. Responsive behaviours can include screaming, wandering, grabbing, restlessness, agitation, pacing, resisting care, verbal and/or physical aggression. Personal support workers (PSWs) working with persons with responsive behaviours tend to work alone in a variety of unfamiliar settings, which increases their risk of experiencing workplace violence.

What are we doing?

This study aims to determine whether the implementation of a rapid response algorithm for managing workplace violence: a) resolves concerns relating to clients’ responsive behaviours; and b) decreases perception of risk due to caring for clients displaying responsive behaviours among PSWs. A cross-sectional survey at a large home care provider in Ontario, Canada was conducted. Data were collected pre-implementation and at 6 months and 1-year post from PSWs caring for adult clients with responsive behaviours. Supervisor experience in supporting PSWs that reported a workplace violence incident was also collected.


A total of 345 PSWs (96.2% female) completed the survey pre-implementation. More than half of the participants (53.9%) had cared for an adult client with cognitive impairment in the last 6 months who was physically or verbally aggressive or violent and 25% reported being harmed while caring for these adults. At 6 months post, 57.63% reported having cared for these clients in the last 6 months with 22% reported being harmed. Risk of being harmed on a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high) was reported to be 4.9 pre implementation and 4.7 at 6 months.

Spot it! Prevent it! Poster
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Project Funders

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Project Contact

Arlinda Ruco, PhD
Research Associate