Updated: Apr 17, 2021
For some lone workers, the main threats to safety arise from the behavior of their clients, and this extends to home healthcare workers.
As a business, we're all about protecting lone workers from the challenges that lone workers face daily. For some roles, these challenges can at times be extreme. Many lone workers operate in extreme physical situations, such as hazardous environments or outdoors in bad weather. For others, it’s the extreme behavior of clients and service users that form the main challenges. In this blog, we're going to look at one such group that may be subject to workplace violence: home healthcare workers.
Workplace violence is a real problem in healthcare
First of all, it's important to focus on what we mean by workplace violence. This is defined as any act of violence, including threats of violence and abuse, that occurs at a worksite. For certain categories of worker, this can be an everyday risk in their work. Working with people can be unpredictable at the best of times. But the risks of workplace violence rise further if they're dealing with people showing signs of extreme behavior (for instance, if they're under the influence of alcohol or narcotics). They may also face occupational stress, verbal abuse, neighborhood violence, guns and weapons, and many other situations that other Industries do not face.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) compiles statistics on workplace assaults in the US. According to the latest figures, approximately 75% of nearly 25,000 assaults reported annually occurred in healthcare and social service settings. Additionally, workers in public healthcare settings are four times more likely to be victimized than workers in private industry. Of course, not all healthcare takes place in healthcare facilities. Millions of caregivers, physiotherapists and in-home care support across the US are all often in lone working roles. With home healthcare, nurses and home visitors face a range of risks that come from working separately from co-workers.
Preparation can be critical
Of course, preparation is often the best way of mitigating potential risks. Before visiting a location, home healthcare workers must have up-to-date information. This may include whether there is an animal in the house, the individual’s behavior (for instance, if there is drug or alcohol use), and the physical environment.
But there are other ways to prepare too. Safe Hub has a number of safety features that improve the situation for home healthcare workers when visiting difficult clients’ homes. Yellow Alert lets healthcare lone workers leave a recorded message with our Monitoring & Response Center, including details about their location and any concerns. This information will then be accessed in the event of a Red Alert being triggered and can save valuable time should a problem occur. Before starting their shift, home healthcare workers can also set up Safe Check. This welfare check feature automatically gets them to respond to prompts to confirm they're OK throughout the day.
Signaling for and getting the help you need
As for support, once they're on-site at the client's home, home healthcare workers have a number of options. If they've set up Safe Check, then they'll automatically be prompted to respond. If they feel threatened or find themselves in a dangerous situation, they can trigger a Red Alert, which summons emergency help more quickly than if they were to dial 911. Team members at our Monitoring & Response Center use the initial seconds of a Red Alert call for active listening, in case a vulnerable worker can't speak freely.
And of course, extreme behavior isn't the only risk that home healthcare workers face in their duties. We're also able to offer support in the event that a worker has slipped, tripped or fallen. With Worker Down enabled on their smartphone or safety device, lone workers have access to support when the device registers impact or prolonged lack of movement.
Making it easy and safe to report incidents and accidents
One major problem for employers is the lack of reporting of incidents and accidents by home healthcare workers. Anecdotal evidence from home healthcare companies suggests that attacks occur often, but many go unreported. Alternatively, employees only mention an attack as they're leaving that job. And in many cases, workers minimize their own experience as something they don't want to bother reporting. With Safe Hub in place, employers of home healthcare workers can provide a reporting mechanism and a security solution in one.
To find out more about home healthcare workers and lone worker protection, contact one of the team today.
About Sky Alert
Safe Hub, from Sky Alert, is an advanced security platform that protects people working alone. With pinpoint accuracy and lightning-fast response, Safe Hub is not just another 911 app. It's all-around protection for lone workers. Using a discreet personal device such as the SOS Fob, our advanced App on a smartphone, or the SPOT X satellite device, Safe Hub connects users with a state-of-the-art Monitoring Response Center (MRC). At the MRC, highly trained operatives can provide immediate assistance directing the police or paramedics to your GPS location in the fastest time possible.