A falling Lois Lane once said to Superman,

“You’ve got me, but who’s got you?”

In a similar vein, Home healthcare workers make such a difference through caring for and looking out for their patients, but who cares about THEIR personal safety? How can they be protected from the many risks of harm they face simply carrying out their jobs in the mobile workplace.

Risks to Healthcare worker safety

Risks like violent crime, verbal abuse or even an encounter with vicious animals are everyday occurrences yet they often go unreported. Worse still is the reality that many affected mobile workers will brush these events under the carpet due to the fact that they fear they might actually LOSE THEIR JOBS by reporting them.

A recent study by Pam Albers, LCSW, BACS, of the New Orleans Family Justice Center, program director for sexual assault services at the Crescent House in New Orleans, and an expert in the field of home care industry safety showed that:

  • Some 60 percent of community nurses have been verbally abused on the job in the last two years, mainly by family and friends of the patients, she said.
  • About 20 percent of survey participants weren’t sure if their employer would take action if they were assaulted on the job. Furthermore, Albers said, “they didn’t even know if there were policies and procedures if something did happen.”
  • A full 80 percent said they did not report abusive or dangerous incidents to their supervisors.

Albers said of the study’s conclusions: “The drive for hospice and home health is, ‘We take care of our patients. That’s our reason for existence.’ But we can’t take care of our patients if our employees don’t feel safe,” said and author of a recent study on the topic of home care industry safety.

Every year, 500,000 nurses from all types of healthcare jobs, hospitals and agencies, are victims of violence under a backdrop of not identifying themselves as “ likely targets” , a lack of awareness and minimal organisational policies in place to reduce the risks of these attacks.

There is no doubt that violence and danger are an enormous issue for the home care provider.

The ugly reality is that violence can happen in spite of the very best preparation – but agencies can still help reduce the risks, said Warren Hebert, chief executive officer of the HCLA. “We all know that preventing something like this is nearly impossible,” Hebert said. “But we can lessen the likelihood that it might happen again through proactive company policies and safety education.”

While there are no guarantees that crime won’t happen to someone in your agency, the best way to fight it is to take every step you can to reduce the risk. As an agency administrator, you can start by asking yourself some questions:

  • How can I provide the best and safety working environment for my staff and nurses?
  • How can I assess my own agency and the policies and procedures we have in place to respond to traumatic events? 
  • What education do I need to be prepared to handle future traumatic events?

Protecting Healthcare worker safety:How can we help?

GuardianMPS have been educating and protecting workers in the Social and Healthcare sectors in the UK for over 15 years, where safety legislation demands a robust safe system of work for lone workers. The GuardianMPS mobile worker safety systems incorporate live recording panic alarms, activity monitoring and tracking and full 24/7 professional monitoring service in the US.

This is based on an original article which can be found and read here.

For more information or to request a case study visit our contact page.