Policies and Procedures
It is important to maintain a zero tolerance policy for any instance of workplace violence. Workers must be instructed that all cases should be reported immediately (Bills, 20 July 2013). One practice that can be turned into policies is to establish a no-weapons policy in patient homes. If such policy is not required, request at a minimum that before service is provided, all weapons be disabled, removed from the area where care is provided, and stored in a secure location (Morgan, 16 Dec 2015 ). Law enforcement can be helpful when determining if the home owners have a registered weapon by checking data bases. They can also search the home if the home healthcare agency asks them to do so. It will be safer to know that the police are aware of the weapons and that the patients have them stored away to prevent harm to the home healthcare worker.
Some practices that help to make the job of a home healthcare worker safe are, having a buddy system, let someone know when they have completed / finished rendering services, when you’re expected home, and to have an escort service. Some companies provide security officers that outpatient services can hire to ensure the safety and security of the job. Security companies can offer driving escort services, walking escort services, patient locator services and customized reporting for home healthcare security officers. Driving escort services will pick up the medical staff employee at their home or office, and at the completion of the day, they will return them to their home or office. This is for the time of the visit to the patient’s home. Walking escort services will meet the employee in the field or at the office. They will accompany the employee into the patient’s home providing, security services or translation services. Patient locator services can have an officer go out to locate a patient that did not answer phone calls, letters, regarding managed long-term care (Cambridge Security, 2016).
A security service company can provide security to many different organizations including hospitals and medical offices. The officers are either armed or unarmed and are trained to their specific setting, which could be in a hospital or in the home care field because their environments and resources will differ. They are available 24/7 and cover vehicle patrol and specialized protection solutions. The security officer can be assigned by the request of the agency. If the security officer should be armed, the agency will determine under what circumstances and what uniform the guard should be wearing. Also, the agency can request an armed officer if the area is determined to be dangerous. If the home healthcare worker feels unsafe, the armed officer can provide security for their home visit (Citiguard Inc., 2016).
Another practice to keep in mind is the hours that the home healthcare workers are visiting patients’ homes. Risk factors can include: after hours; alone; high-crime settings; and any situation involving extensive contact with the public (ACH Media, 01 Mar 1998). Some specific areas may also be deemed, “daylight only” due to area crime rates or other predetermined risk factors. Other suggested safety tips are to report violent incidents promptly, participate in safety committees, and to take advantage of safety training at work – which might include techniques to recognize escalating situations or how to report issues. Other precautions may include, to be certain of the location of your visit and have accurate directions to the house or apartment, have more than one person to call in case you need directions, and let your employer know your location and when you expect to report back Know the location of the local police or fire department so that driving there for safety is an option. Park in a well-lit area, away from large trees or shrubs, avoid areas with poor visibility such as alleys or isolated buildings, avoid leaving items visible on the car seats during visits, and lock healthcare equipment and personal items in the trunk of the vehicle, (-avoid opening the trunk of the car at the patient’s home). Good safety habits include, making sure your car is filled with gas and in good working condition, before exiting the car check out what is happening nearby. If you feel uncomfortable or unsure stay in the car and call a manager. Also, confirm with your patients shortly before you visit, so they’re expecting you and don’t be afraid to shorten a visit if things get out of control or if you feel threatened (Brooks, 11 April 2012).
There are many risk factors affecting the security of the home healthcare worker. The uncertainty of the job puts their lives in possible danger every day. Patients may live in high crime areas that can be dangerous, or the patients and their families can be dangerous themselves. In the community there may be illegal weapons, illegal drug and alcohol use, gang activity and other potential dangers the home healthcare worker will have to face. Having directions on hand and someone to call are safe practices for the home healthcare worker to use if they get lost. The home healthcare worker can also utilize one of the technological tools provided by some companies for directions and emergency assistance. Another practice is to hire an outside company for a security escort services. The security officer can meet the worker and accompany them in to the patient’s home for security. This can help to keep the worker safe and to have someone to provide backup in case of danger. It is best for managers and the home healthcare worker to have training on effective workplace violence prevention programs. The programs can help the worker to determine dangerous situations and cues to look out for. Having appropriate training programs in place can help ensure the security of the home healthcare workers.