There’s no way possible to help someone else without posing a risk to yourself. Often the best people in this life are the ones who are willing to put themselves in harm’s way for the good of others.
These are the kind of people who make up the lone workers.
Healthcare workers, social workers, behavioral health case managers, crisis teams, children and family service workers, and hospice workers are all the saints in uniform. They’re willing to put their own safety on the line for the wellness of their clients.
But employers can boost lone worker safety. With the right equipment and training, lone healthcare and social workers can perform their job and help people with decreased risk to themselves.
Keep reading to learn about the risks and risk management solutions for the lone workers.
Lone workers who conduct home visits often take on much more risk than their institution-based counterparts. Social workers who work alone will visit people who do not necessarily want a social worker in their home. These lone workers run the risk of physical harm from unforeseen volatile situations and people.
Individuals conducting home visits run into other hazards as well:
- Mentally unstable individuals: patients at home can have violent or erratic behavior
- Environmental hazards: unsafe homes due to poverty increase the risk of illness and injury
- Lack of training and defensive equipment: social workers need proper defense training, communication devices, tracking systems, and pepper spray
Individuals who work in social work and the healthcare field that visits homes may also have their own unsafe facility. Often social service departments have inadequate funds for their clients not to mention for their facilities. As a result, many social workers go to work in unhealthy buildings.
Money is the key factor for many social work organizations. Social work organizations need grants for proper training seminars and safety equipment.
How to Prevent Lone Safety Worker Harm
Social workers are significantly more likely to suffer workplace harm than the typical employee. Proper training and safety equipment can mitigate the risk that social workers and healthcare workers take on when they visit homes.
Training and Policies
Social worker agencies need to first implement procedures and policies that promote safety in their workplace. For example, all employees should know how to access the alarm systems that will alert others in the building of a safety hazard.
Additionally, social workers should have open meeting spaces where others in the building can see them working. Agencies should keep objects that could double as weapons hidden or in secure spaces. For example, letter openers and scissors need to stay stowed away in desks.
All social worker agencies should provide their social workers with proper safety training. This will allow social workers to see potentially dangerous scenes and prepare them for what they should do.
A good social and healthcare worker will understand their need to speak calmly with a direct approach. Good training will teach them how to de-escalate the situation so that everyone leaves intact.
With proper training, social workers and healthcare workers will know how to treat violent clients, identify triggers, and communicate in a crisis situation.
Home Visit Strategies
Clear, proper communication forms the foundation for a good relationship. The same goes for when you’re attempting to visit an unsafe environment with individuals you’ve never met. You should always be suspicious to be safe, but you need great communication skills.
Communicating With Adults
Lone workers should focus first on building rapport with parents by approaching them with an open mind, finding out what matters to the adults, and listening to their explanations without interrupting or arguing with them.
A good lone worker will also know how to ask good questions. For example, you should ask open-ended questions that let adults expound on their points rather than closed-ended questions that end with a simple yes or no.
More than anything, a lone worker who visits a home should focus on building trust with both parents and children.
Communicating With Children
Children who experience trauma in the home will have feelings of shame and anger. When a social worker speaks to a child experiencing such fear and shame, they need to do so with respect and honesty.
The social worker will give the child clear choices, and this should reduce the opposition or anxiety when the lone worker asks questions.
Respect Cultural Differences
Furthermore, a good lone worker will recognize the cultural differences in a home compared to their own culture. Doing so will allow the worker to see if the home is truly unsafe or just different from what they expect in their own culture.
Clear communication will pave the way for a safe visit. A few other basic safety tips for lone workers will help as well:
- Minimize jewelry to not attract attention
- Dress appropriately in simple clothes that do not attract attention
- Be aware of pets, especially if you have a fear or an allergy
- Keep a first-aid kit in your vehicle
- Trust your instincts and leave if you don’t feel safe
- Ask to hold a child if you want to hold a child
- Keep your personal information minimal
These basic lone worker safety guidelines will keep your employees safe.
You should also provide your lone workers with the proper equipment. All lone safety workers should carry a basic first-aid kit in their cars. They should have proper communication, and if possible, a lone employee safety device.
Prioritize Lone Worker Safety
To protect all of your employees, prioritize lone worker safety in your organization. Doing so will show your employees how much you care for them, and it will make your organization the one that people want to work for.
Furthermore, it will protect your most valuable asset.
Do you need lone employee safety devices? We can help. Contact us to request a demo of our products today.
Our team members work hard to create a comfortable, no-pressure environment as they explain our products. Give us a call today.