Assignment Aims and Objectives
Healthcare assistants form a critical part of the nursing team, and being the selected vocational area of study, this assignment will provide a description of the risks associated with health assistance roles and control measures for the identified work issues.
Vocational Area of Study
Health assistance is a profession that involves care provision to individuals and families. Healthcare assistants work together with nurses to help patients and their families manage diseases while improving their quality of life (Jansen et al., 2017). The duties of a health assistant include helping patients go to the bathroom, making beds, monitoring patients’ conditions by taking their pulse rate and temperature, feeding patients, and assisting patients when they want to move around.
Health Assistants’ Associated Risks
Given the complexities associated with healthcare settings, various factors may affect the health of healthcare assistants (Walton and Rogers, 2017). Given the roles of healthcare assistants, they may face varying workplace hazards. Considering that healthcare assistants help wash/bath patients, they are constantly exposed to chemicals from bodily fluids and substances such as sanitisers. Also, when giving patients medications, healthcare assistants are exposed to hazardous drugs such as antineoplastic drugs. They are also exposed to physical hazards, including laser, radiation, and noise patients’ bodily fluids are also a host of various communicable diseases; hence healthcare assistants face a risk of acquiring these diseases.
Environmental hazards such as needlestick injuries, back injuries, and workplace violence may also risk the lives of healthcare assistants. Healthcare assistants are also exposed to psychological hazards, which often result from violence threats, poor teamwork, bullying, lack of leadership support, low wages, mandatory overtime, few opportunities for advancements. Psychological stress affects individual health outcomes, and this may consequently affect work productivity. Poor ventilation is also an occupational risk that health assistants face. This may impact their ability to work effectively. Health assistants may participate in manual handling, including carrying heavy loads, which can affect the musculoskeletal system, thereby causing pain problems (Walton and Rogers, 2017). Lifting patients present healthcare assistants with a risk of musculoskeletal injuries.
Health hazards may affect the productivity of healthcare assistants, and this may affect their ability to deliver quality healthcare services to patients.
Noise and Sound
Noise is an environmental stressor and may affect work performance (Carvalhais et al., 2016). The Health and Safety Authority (HSA) provides guidelines on noise control measures. Hearing protectors can be used for protection against noise. Additionally, the organisation of work to limit the duration of intensity and noise exposure can help control occupational noise hazards.
Stress in the workplace can be minimised by being alert to the early signs of stress and intervening early. Employers can minimise stress by responding to employee complaints in an appropriate, sensitive, and supportive manner. Being mindful of employees’ working hours will increase their motivation on the job, and consequently reduce stress.
Diet, exercise and lifestyle
An active lifestyle that promotes physical and mental stress can help employees to cope with personal stress. Social support, being optimistic and having a balanced diet can help control are crucial measures that individuals can take to ensure that they reduce feelings of anxiety and depression.
To avoid substance misuse, healthcare assistants can be trained on how to handle chemicals and other harmful substances that may risk their health. Being alert on the job can help prevent substance misuse. Additionally, encouraging social support is vital in preventing incidences of substance misuse. Organizing seminars that sensitize worker on the negative aspects of substance misuse can reduce such occurrences.
Work-related stress is a common occupational illness that most health assistants face. Stress causes fatigue, mental exhaustion, and upset. In most cases, it is associated with physical symptoms that include dry mouth, heartbeat, sweaty palms, and swiftness of breath. While people under stress may behave differently, generally, stress causes feelings of being overpowered, fearfulness, and a feeling of loss of control (Bhui et al., 2016).
There are pressures that normally characterise life, and many aspects of personal, family, and work-life can cause stress. Stress among healthcare assistants is caused by aspects such as lack of control over various situations due to their limited scope of practice, workload, the ambiguity of their roles, lack of teamwork, and conflicts with other healthcare professionals (Bhui et al., 2016). The risks associated with healthcare assistants’ roles and responsibilities may cause stress since individuals may continuously contemplate about various infections that can arise.
Stress results in a wide range of symptoms, including anxiety and depression. Additionally, individuals with stress may exhibit short-temperedness, lack of interest in activities, and insomnia. Other symptoms include poor job performance, irritability, loss of appetite, short attention span, procrastination, and increased use of alcohol and drugs (Giorgi et al., 2018).
Impact on the Worker
Work-related stress is often associated with poor performance and low productivity, as well as lack of motivation and concentration. Stress may also lead to healthcare conditions that affect a healthcare assistant’s quality of life. Negatively managed stress often leads to depression, and to manage this stress, some individuals turn to drugs and alcohol. Rather than managing the situation, these actions worsen the situation (Bhui et al., 2016). Additionally, stress causes burnout and low morale.
Considering that stress affects the overall productivity of healthcare assistants, prioritising on its prevention is paramount. Preventive measures may be personal or organisational. Social support is an especially important concept of reducing work-related stress since access and availability of support reduces the perceptions of the stressor and the resultant stress. A management that recognises employees for good performance can also help prevent stress among employees (Bhui et al., 2016). Also, there should be a system within the organisation to recognise and manage low morale among employees.
Implementing a safe program response should be the main focus of any organisation employing healthcare assistants since various hazards are associated with working in healthcare, with biological agents and infectious diseases being the most widely recognised hazards (McDiarmid, 2014). Safety programs focusing on preventing exposure to infectious agents and preventing musculoskeletal injuries that result from lifting patients should be implemented to ensure the safety of healthcare assistants. The implementation of hazard classes can help educate healthcare assistants on how to protect themselves from various healthcare hazards (McDiarmid, 2014). Creating ways of effectively communicating with healthcare assistants and understanding their unique roles and responsibilities will help reduce work-related stress among these individuals. Additionally, social support is an important aspect of workplace stress management.
The HSA provides guidelines that ensure health and safety and workers in Ireland. Healthcare is a complex sector that is associated with increased risks that may affect an individual’s quality of life. Organisations have a responsibility towards their employees, and the management should ensure that the working environment is optimal for better performance. Problems such as stress affect workplace productivity and affect the overall quality of life of an individual. Risk control measures in the workplace are vital in reducing accidents or injury occurrence in the workplace. Organisational risk assessment and control measures help identify employees who are at risk. They help eliminate risk factors, which might result in poor working conditions among the employees. Social support is an important factor that can help manage issues such as stress in the workplace environment; hence organisational leaders should focus on ensuring that individuals have access to social support. Workplace stress is associated with detrimental health and mental effects. Effective stress management interventions within an organisation are vital in helping individuals manage stress. Prevention is better than treatment since once an individual experiences stress, completing managing the problem can be difficult and time-consuming.