The purpose of this paper is to describe the experiences of non-clinical staff working in psychiatric settings, particularly in relation to exposure to context-specific hazards, and perceived safety.Design/methodology/approachQualitative interviews with 23 administrative and operational staff were analysed using a framework approach.FindingsAnalysis demonstrated extensive exposure to occupational violence, including assault and verbal abuse within and/or beyond the workplace and concern about infectious disease. Impact of exposure was wide ranging, dependent on type and circumstances of violence and personal resources, with several participants experiencing ongoing psychological distress. Participants employed a range of problem- and emotion-focused strategies, typically seeking support from peers, to manage work-related stress but felt neglected by the organisation. They sought inclusion in or access to processes, such as supervision and debrief, routinely available to clinicians and to information about risk associated with patients.Research limitations/implicationsGeneralisability is constrained by conduct of this study in a particular setting with non-random sample.Practical implicationsThe findings of this paper indicate a pressing need for administrators to ensure efforts to address safety encompass all staff, and the need for further research. Particular attention should be given to enabling non-clinical staff to examine ethical questions, ensuring access to support mechanisms and development of an inclusive culture.Originality/valueWhile exposure to, and impact of workplace violence on clinical staff have been extensively studied, this paper is the first to qualitatively examine the safety of a commonly forgotten workforce.
International Journal of Workplace Health Management – Emerald Publishing
Published: Jul 26, 2018
Keywords: Violence; Qualitative research; Occupational health and safety; Mental health services; Non-clinical