Care Sector Home Sweet HomeCategory: Care Sector Blog, Health & Safety | Kevin Irwin | Published on: Feb 11, 2019 | Updated: Feb 13, 2019 Read more: Care Sector Blog, Health & Safety
An elderly neighbour of mine has recently had a serious illness that hospitalised him for several weeks.
Dave was an active chap and the type of neighbour who would put his neighbours’ bins away when they were at work. He would make his regular walk to the local newsagent to buy his daily paper and chat to people en route. He preferred his morning walk to having his newspaper delivered. So, it was a bit of a shock to our local community when he took ill.
Thankfully, he is on the way to recovery and is home again but can’t make his regular newspaper buying excursion. He needs regular care and is visited several times each day by nurses, carers and domiciliary workers. Such visits are essential for Dave and they ensure that people are treated in the more comfortable surroundings of home than in a hospital ward and, of course, if frees a vital space in our stretched hospital system.
Hazards that home healthcare workers may encounter?
I see the home healthcare workers regularly and my thoughts turn to the unique working environment that such workers are in.
Some of the hazards that home healthcare workers may encounter when delivering their service are unique to the home setting. Their work environment generally is not under the control of themselves or their employer and so they may encounter unexpected and unpredictable hazards.
Various hazards can be encountered in the home setting such as aggressive animals and aggressive people – not only the client but the client’s family.
A difficult issue to control is the hazard from passive smoking, where the client or their family have no constraints on smoking habits
Home healthcare workers frequently work alone and also face the general risks of driving when travelling between clients. Often the home visits can be in deprived areas where there may be an increased risk of anti-social behaviour, particularly in the hours of darkness.
Requirements for the Safety of Home Healthcare Workers
- The risks from tasks that the workers are to perform will be known, but the risks from the home environment will be an unexpected factor.
- Therefore, healthcare workers should conduct a site risk assessment, at least for the initial visit when visiting homes to identify potential hazards such as trailing cables or extension leads, uneven floor coverings, areas of poor lighting. To reduce the bureaucratic burden, the assessment may be in the form of a simple checklist.
- Agreement should be reached with the client to ensure that any aggressive pets are securely restrained for the duration of the care workers visits, and that no smoking is conducted for a reasonable time before the agreed care appointment.
- Referral documents and initial contact meetings should be used to assess the risks of violence and aggression. If there is a potential risk then consideration should be given to increasing the number of workers, using electronic alert systems, communicating with colleagues before entering and on leaving the premises, etc.
- Many organisations utilise a seemingly innocent alert word or phrase during a phone call to alert colleagues that they feel threatened and so to summon assistance.
- Staff may need to be trained in conflict management or de-escalation and in defensive and breakaway techniques.
- There should always be a sufficient number of workers to carry out the tasks required.
- Wherever a member of staff is working alone a lone working risk assessment should be completed – please see attached Arinite’s Lone Working factsheet
- Staff must receive regular communication from their Line Manager to ensure they do not become socially isolated and they have the opportunity to report any concerns.
- Arinite’s factsheet AFS0500 Care Sector – Health and Safety Considerations sets out the basics of risks faced by home healthcare workers and the precautions that need to be taken.
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