Physical abuse is a type of abuse which involves one-to-one direct contact with intentions of making the person feel intimidated and causing them to inflict pain through suffering with bodily harm. Striking, punching, pulling, kicking, slapping, striking with an object, strangling, rape, and so forth are all examples of physical abuse whereby it leads to many injuries, such as bruises, lacerations, cuts, burns, bite marks, broken limbs, etc. This can be carried out by care workers who lose their temper with a person because either they are being difficult or it could be that they are in retaliation for being hit with a walking stick by a confused patient. Possible scenarios of physical abuse taking place within a health and social care setting could be:
• Jane has a stroke and so she cannot feed herself. However, she is a very difficult person to feed as she often always refuses to open her mouth when offered food on a spoon and when fed by the care worker this time round, she straight away spits out the mouthful of food into the worker’s face. The worker then loses her temper and slaps Jane in order to ‘teach her a lesson’. This will be regarded as abuse for which there will be consequences as a follow up of the health professional having laid her fingers on the service user.
• Another scenario would be; John can no longer be taken care of by his wife due to circumstances and so therefore, it results in John being moved to a care home which he is most definitely not so happy about. Due to the unfamiliar change which he is not used to, he becomes confused and takes his anger out by lashing out with a stick to anyone who comes near him. An agency worker comes in has come in to cover for sickness and has no clue about John and his situation as she has not been told about him. As she bends down to pick something up from the floor, he hits her across her back. The worker then instinctively lashes out and hits John. This is abuse once again, for which consequences will take place, and where offences will be held against the worker even though he didn’t have the first hit. Although the worker may argue that he hit John back as ‘self-defence’, this is under no means acceptable and charges will be pressed against the worker.