The week between Christmas and New Year is traditionally one of feasting, family and fun as we celebrate the season and the start of a new year. However, there are many reasons why this time of year is dangerous in our workplace. Correctional nurses need to be on high alert in the days ahead. Here are my three reasons for concern this week.
Reason #1: We lose our focus
The last month of the year is busy with many things. You and your colleagues are taking that final stretch of vacation time. Kids have holiday and end-of-year school activities. Work sites have holiday parties and extra treats in the break room. It is easy to lose focus on personal safety or to be working short-staffed. Those who might do you harm take advantage of opportunity. In addition, your own emotions might be swinging between elation and despair as the holidays approach. Emotional turmoil is a magnet for inmate psychopaths or sociopaths. Therefore, this is a time of year with increased vulnerability to inappropriate relationship. Check out my prior posts on dealing with psychopaths and signs of unhealthy relationships.
Reason #2: Our patients are not merry
For inmates, the lack of family support and distance from children or spouse is accentuated during the holidays. Guilt over not being able to provide gifts for children and family estrangement can be acute. The holidays can lead to deeper depression, anger and aggressive behavior. Be particularly alert for increased evidence of suicide potential during the holiday season.
Reason #3: Our co-workers and managers are with their families
On occasion I review medical charts in cases involving inmate plaintiffs. A common scenario involves lack of treatment or inaction during a weekend or holiday. Reduced staffing and vacant management offices leave staff with few resources to deal with emergent issues. Be sure to know all administrative contacts when working weekends and holidays. Policy manuals and treatment guides should also be accessible to staff. It is not unusual to find these important materials locked in a manager’s office; unavailable to those who need their guidance in an urgent situation.
Do you have some other reasons to add? Have you had some dangerous Christmas Week experiences in your setting? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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