Figures obtained earlier in 2019 by the GMB union revealed that UK care workers had suffered more than 6,000 violent attacks that resulted in serious injuries.
The data, which was obtained under the Freedom of Information Act from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), found that violent attacks accounted for one third (33%) of reports made to the HSE by residential care workers. Across all workers, the proportion was just 7%.
These alarming figures highlights the risks faced by Social Care Workers who often work alone in very challenging and potentially dangerous circumstances. There is always a lot of importance on keeping service users safe, but staff safety must be given the same level of importance because the risks to social care workers is increasing all the time as more people with challenging behaviour move out of larger institutional type settings into supported living units or houses of multiple occupancy.
In a residential setting there will be other staff on hand to assist should an incident occur but out in the community, most staff are lone workers and so the risk of harm is greatly increased.
All providers must have robust policies and procedures to protect their staff and following this tragic event it’s a stark reminder that policies and procedures concerning staff safety should be reviewed on a regular basis especially domiciliary services that support people with Mental Health problems.
Social Care Providers are acutely aware of the risks their staff face on a daily basis but to help any new or start up providers here is a few tips that will help ensure the risks to your staff are minimised:
- Ensure your staff are aware of your Health and Safety Policies and Procedures especially those relating to working alone or with people with mental health/challenging behaviour.
- Provide training in risk management and recognising the environment/events/triggers that may place them in potentially dangerous situations. Role play is good to really drive home the risks
- Carry out thorough risk assessments which includes external risks such as the safety of the local area in which staff work – if in doubt Double Up
- Issue staff with mobile phones and personal alarms
- Have GPS tracking software that will post an alert when the staff member is delayed or running late
- If you cannot afford GPS software, simply check in with the member of staff on a regular basis using the phone. For high risk areas/service users get the staff member to notify you when they have completed the call.
- Where appropriate train staff in “Break Away” techniques
- If the risks identified raise serious concerns about personal safety, do not start the care but request an urgent review
- Carry out regular reviews on high risk care packages – recommend Monthly as a minimum
This is not an exhaustive list but it sets out a few fundamental principles on which providers can use to compile more detailed and robust approaches to staff safety.
If you would like further advice and guidance on Staff Safety please contact our CQC Compliance Consultants by following this link or call 01305 767104.