UK nurses have been issued with new guidance on identifying victims of domestic abuse in their care by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).
The organisation has developed a new range of resources for nurses and midwives to help them to spot signs of abuse in the patients they treat, following input from its own members, as well as a panel of experts.
These resources will advise nursing staff on spotting victims of both physical and verbal abuse, sexual assault, rape, threats and intimidation, using standards devised by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence, as well as recent national guidance.
In addition, the RCN resources will explain the impact that domestic abuse can have on not just the victim themselves, but also their partners, children and wider family networks.
What's more, as this could be a sensitive issue for healthcare professionals themselves, the guidance also features advice on how nurses themselves can seek help if they have been abused, alongside providing them with tips on staying safe online.
Carmel Burgess, professional lead for midwifery and women's health at the RCN, commented: "Domestic abuse can have a devastating effect on individuals and families, however, the signs are not always obvious and sometimes a subtle observation or sensitive question from a nurse or midwife can be a route to recognising someone who may be vulnerable and afraid."
In addition, the new resources aim to challenge the common assumption that domestic abuse victims are always female, as data from the Office for National Statistics shows that one in six men will experience some form of abuse from a partner during their lifetime. However, a stigma tends to surround male victims, which the RCN hopes to play a part in ending.
Ms Burgess added that pocket guides for healthcare professionals will be issued across UK hospitals and other healthcare facilities ahead of the start of 2017 in a push to provide improved support to domestic abuse victims from next year onwards.
Written by James Puckle
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