A home health manager’s most important challenge is to encourage staff to trust their own judgment and intuition to avoid situations that don’t feel “right”, and for managers to honor that judgment. Home healthcare workers should know how to identify a potentially dangerous situation, and should be trained in how to manage hostile and violent environments. If they feel uncomfortable at any time, they should remove themselves from the environment (Bills, 20 July 2013). Workers should be trained in violence prevention programs reducing the risk of assault by educating workers to recognize frequent cues such as drug use and threatening body language, and instructing them about strategies to help defuse situations. Accurate incident reporting is a crucial part of this type of intervention (Jacobson, 31 Dec 2014) and training is important for new and existing employees. During the hiring process employees should be trained in a violence prevention program and then re-educated annually.
One useful tool to help the home healthcare worker recognize possible threats in the area is a windshield survey. The windshield survey is a tool used to collect information by driving around a community and the healthcare worker records what he or she sees. This can be a very helpful tool for the workers to know the area that they are working in. Knowing the surrounding area helps determine what is ordinary or what may be dangerous. Being trained to recognize common pre-indicators of criminal or other illicit activity can alert the home healthcare worker to keep their guard up (Washtenaw Community College, 16 Sep. 2016).
Local law enforcement agencies may offer a training program for prevention and management of violent attacks (Woolston, 20 Jan. 2016). General tactics may include, taking a self-defense course (Brooks, 11 April 2012). The more healthcare workers are prepared to protect themselves against these hazards, the more productive and safe the environment will be for them and their clients (Bills, 20 July 2013).
There are many resources available to home healthcare workers. Risk assessment tools are one of the most important resources that they can employ. They can help to determine whether or not to visit certain areas in a community. One tool is a map that reports the crime in the area of a community by using a scoring system. This system is helpful to the home care agency because it allows them to view the map on a daily basis. This map shows areas of a county and the neighborhoods that have a high crime rate and scores the area based on its data. The data for demographics that is scored is based on education, economics, population, housing and population mobility in the community. The data on criminology and computer modeling are national police, local police, client loss reports, offender surveys and victim surveys. Also, the map shows green for a lower crime area, yellow for an area that the home care worker should use caution in due to increased crime rates, and red for an area that has a higher probability of criminal activity due to historical crime statistics. Such visual aids can help to determine appropriate countermeasures and precautions when the home healthcare worker visits the patients’ homes. Patients may live in high crime areas and this system will allow an extra proactive safety measure for the agency (CAP Index, 2016).
There are many technological resources that are available to the home healthcare agencies. One example is a product that provides communication between the home healthcare worker and their home agencies. A company that was based in the United Kingdom that was adopted by a North American agency sells this product. This technology allows agencies to monitor their home healthcare worker through record keeping and check-in abilities. The device also helps with the safety of the home healthcare worker through an ID badge. The badge is equipped with a button that can be used to contact the agency or any emergency responder that is needed. The ID badge also includes a voice activation tool that can be helpful to the worker if they are in a dangerous situation. The voice activation will record patient confrontation and police conversations. It also has the ability to reach first responders in a “man-down” situation where the worker may be hurt. Working alone can be dangerous for the home healthcare worker. Having the ability to silently contact the police at any time of the day can help with their security and safety (SoloProtect, 2016).
Another technological resource provided in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, is a smartphone that helps the home health worker stay connected with the agencies as they are out in the field. The staff is more connected by having the ability to contact their office when they are having trouble with directions, are in a dangerous situation, or if they need their daily schedule. This smartphone tool allows the agency to share schedules with the homecare staff, along with being able to share directions to patients’ homes. Their service helps to decrease mistakes and to keep the staff on schedule. This tool eliminates the need for paper on the job (Healthcare Information Technology, 08 Mar 2012). Eliminating paper and charts may be easier on the home healthcare worker because it gives them one less thing to carry, making their job a little easier when they are in a hurry to go from car to house.
Another resource that can be useful to home healthcare workers is a household safety checklist. The household safety checklist was designed to be used by home healthcare workers, after receiving a brief one hour training session. The 50 item checklist focuses on common hazardous conditions that could result in falls, burns, and biohazards and chemical hazard exposure. Both workers and patients commented on how easy it was to overlook hazards (Gershon, 2013). Along with the safety checklist, a household safety fact sheet with resources for low-or no cost remediation and contact information for emergency agencies (Gershon and Severson, 2013).
Another tool available is a resource for the employee that can help build the communication between the home healthcare worker and their patients. The home healthcare employee is given an active curriculum that helps to meet the safety and training needs for home healthcare workers. The training promotes safe and healthy environments that both the home healthcare worker and patient have to work in. The curriculum helps the workers to recognize hazards and to find the best solutions to decrease the hazard. It is the employee’s responsibility to make the work environment safe for themselves and others and to understand the training that they are given. A check list is given to help the home healthcare worker recognize what potential hazards may apply to them in the home setting. The check list describes fall, trip, back and knee injuries and other potential injury hazards. Other strategies that are described in the curriculum are the best ways to communicate concerns with the client that will not upset them. If the home healthcare worker does not change their work environment then the injuries that they could sustain will cause time out of work and they can potentially lose pay (CDC, 8 June 2016).