Sexual Harass of Staff by Residents?

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    Hi, I'm thinking of becoming a CNA and working with the geriatric population, then later on possibly going back to school for RN. However, there's just one aspect I'm worried about and it's the fact that I've been told that the residents in nursing homes often sexually abuse the CNAs and nurses, groping them and making unwanted sexual advances, etc. Without wanting to go into much detail, I have a childhood history of sexual abuse and this would make me very uncomfortable. I posted about this in the General Nursing forum but was promptly told to "get over myself and please don't even bother going into nursing." I was hoping to maybe get more understanding responses here. Now, I know some of the patients engaging in this behavior may suffer from Alzheimer's/dementia and simply don't know any better, in which case is very sad but admittedly would still make me uncomfortable. And then I'm told some patients are just aggressive/perverted people to begin with and think they can get away with such acts in a nursing home.

    I'm wondering if this is really THAT common an occurence, being inappropriately touched by patients, and if so, is anything ever done about it? I mean, if a patient is really sexually aggressive or makes me uncomfortable, would something be done about it and would I be able to get someone to help me with them, etc. or am I expected to just deal with it? I appreciate any advice and hope to receive possibly more sympathetic and understanding responses here. I really want to become a CNA because I love people and helping take care of them, especially the elderly, and I also have experience caring for a dying family member and found it to be a very wonderful, fulfilling thing I could imagine myself doing for a living. This is just the one thing that's making me have second thoughts, cause admittedly such a thing could be triggering for me. Now, I realize that you have to do a lot of cleaning of bodily fluids as a CNA, seeing people naked and bathing them, etc etc. That kind of stuff wouldn't bother me, I am just a little worried about being touched or made to do things against my will.
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    I'm a nurse in a nursing home also with a history of childhood sexual abuse. I'm also in therapy to deal with trauma resolution. I have only had (very) few uncomfortable experiences, and they were dealt with. The worst that's happened to me at work is I was standing at the desk talking to a family member on the phone and a resident came up behind me and pulled me down into his lap. It was triggering for me but I composed myself, told the resident that it was inappropriate, not to do that again, and charted the behavior. There are some things you have to deal with, but its worth it, in my opinion. You are an adult now, you are in control of your body, and you can make choices now. Your body is yours. Don't let what happened to you stop you from being who you want to be. It's your choice now. You can do it. And it may even be healing for you to see that you can handle things. Outside of that one incident, I've only had a couple of butt slaps/grabs. But I handled those the same way. If ya documented that a resident has sexually inappropriate behavior the doctor usually prescribes a medication for that resident to help stop it. Hope this helps!
    interceptinglight likes this.
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    I've been in nursing for more than 30 years. I've had my share of old guys and not so old guys make sexual comments. Set firm limits with them if they are alert and oriented. You don't need to subject yourself to any of that kind of behavior. Even the demented men....they are not allowed to grope the staff in my building. We either send a male CNA in or send in two female aides if one is uncomfortable.
    I hope you don't let this stop you from becoming a CNA or a nurse.
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    I work in a nursing home also. And at times the men will be inappropriate. You do need to let them know this type of behavior is not acceptable. Good documentation of the behaviors are important also. If someone is sexually inappropriate we will have 2 CNA's go in to do their cares.
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    Hey... I know I made this thread a few days ago but I really wanted to thank you guys for your helpful and understanding replies. It means a lot to me and made me feel a lot better.

    I think I still want to try and go into the nursing field. I'm supposed to start CNA school in about 2 months -- I figure the clinicals will give me a taste of what the actual job is like and help me to decide if it's something I can handle and want to pursue further, or not. I hope it does work out for me because I really do want to help sick and elderly people and people who can't take care of themselves. I think that's one of the best things to do with your life, help care for those who can't care for themselves, hence my interest in nursing. When I took care of my sick and dying family member, it really was a wonderful and fulfilling thing -- it broke my heart to see them so sick, but it made me feel better to be able to do something for them.

    I've done some reading and I read that a lot of times when dementia/Alzheimer's patients try to grope you or make advances, it's not that they're trying to hurt you but rather cause of their confused mindstate, like they may think the caregiver/CNA is an old wife or girlfriend or something. Knowing that makes it a little easier to deal with and also knowing that I can have another CNA come in with me if I'm uncomfortable -- my biggest fear was that I'd be forced to handle a sexually aggressive resident all by myself.

    I've also read that Alzheimer's/dementia residents can be aggressive in other ways as well, such as physical -- hitting, biting, etc. How is that usually dealt with, to prevent too much injury or harm to the caregiver/CNA? I imagine this must be hard to deal with as well but I try to imagine it from their perspective -- in their state of mind, they're so confused they don't even know who they are or where they are, and if I didn't know anything and some stranger came into my room undressing me, touching me against my will, etc. I'd be trying to hit and kick them too! It's really sad though to imagine one's mind deteriorating in such a way -- I imagine it must take a great deal of patience, compassion and understanding to work with this population.
    ajacob likes this.
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    Quote from TurtleCat
    Hey... I know I made this thread a few days ago but I really wanted to thank you guys for your helpful and understanding replies. It means a lot to me and made me feel a lot better.

    I think I still want to try and go into the nursing field. I'm supposed to start CNA school in about 2 months -- I figure the clinicals will give me a taste of what the actual job is like and help me to decide if it's something I can handle and want to pursue further, or not. I hope it does work out for me because I really do want to help sick and elderly people and people who can't take care of themselves. I think that's one of the best things to do with your life, help care for those who can't care for themselves, hence my interest in nursing. When I took care of my sick and dying family member, it really was a wonderful and fulfilling thing -- it broke my heart to see them so sick, but it made me feel better to be able to do something for them.

    I've done some reading and I read that a lot of times when dementia/Alzheimer's patients try to grope you or make advances, it's not that they're trying to hurt you but rather cause of their confused mindstate, like they may think the caregiver/CNA is an old wife or girlfriend or something. Knowing that makes it a little easier to deal with and also knowing that I can have another CNA come in with me if I'm uncomfortable -- my biggest fear was that I'd be forced to handle a sexually aggressive resident all by myself.

    I've also read that Alzheimer's/dementia residents can be aggressive in other ways as well, such as physical -- hitting, biting, etc. How is that usually dealt with, to prevent too much injury or harm to the caregiver/CNA? I imagine this must be hard to deal with as well but I try to imagine it from their perspective -- in their state of mind, they're so confused they don't even know who they are or where they are, and if I didn't know anything and some stranger came into my room undressing me, touching me against my will, etc. I'd be trying to hit and kick them too! It's really sad though to imagine one's mind deteriorating in such a way -- I imagine it must take a great deal of patience, compassion and understanding to work with this population.
    I worked in a special Alzheimer's unit at the LTC facility that I was employed by. Two of the residents there were men and only one of those two was ever inappropriate with any of the female CNA's, mostly they were totally harmless and not at all aggressive. Actually, the dementia residents were always my favorite people to take care of, even the ones who often resisted care or were combative. You seem like such a compassionate person with a real heart for the elderly. Do you know how wonderful that is??!! A lot of CNA's and nurses seem to want to avoid LTC like the plague. I encourage you to enter the nursing field...it really needs people like YOU!
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    The closest I've ever come to having been a victim of inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature by a client towards a caregiver was this one time I accepted a two-person private home care job with another caregiver to care for a mentally sound quad who said he had a doctor's order to have a penis pump used on him at night with an accompanied dirty video on his TV in case he ever "met the right woman" as a "use it or lose it" situation. The girl who was caring for him had no problem with this but I just thought it sounded fishy, especially when he would encourage her to wear her bathing suit to work and sunbathe on his back lawn where he could watch from his wheelchair. I refused to participate in any of that and quite the same day I was hired after finding out about the "job requirements" and called the authorities on him as well. I mean come on, I know we wear many hats as CNAs but "prostitute" isn't one of them! Also, I found out after the fact that his so called "prescription" for the penis pump usage was for five years before he got into his accident that turned him into a quad and it was just a suggestion written as a note by his sex therapist!

    That the only time I've come close to something like that happening to me via a client. I've had other caregivers sexually harass me before but I made sure it only happened once before I involved the authorities. Just be aware of boundaries and set firm limits and don't be afraid to get help if a situation warrants it. Your own safety and peace of mind is just as important as those you are caring for!


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