Education on the Road
The SoloProtect team presents at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, the Association for Home and Hospice Care of North Carolina, and the South Carolina Home Care and Hospice Association.
The SoloProtect team hit the road this fall to educate health care employers on the positive and vital impact of protecting their home health employees. The industry is expanding at break-neck speed and is currently projected by the US Department of Labor to be the third fastest growing occupation set to increase by 47% from 2016 to 2026. With such a surge, safety is a principal concern.
Home health nurses and aides generally travel to private residences working alone. In 2018, home health providers are expected to travel nearly 8 billion miles visiting patients and administering care. This exposes workers to significant risks both during their commute and while working.
Lee Coleman, Market Development Officer at SoloProtect presented at the National Association for Home Care and Hospice Conference at the Gaylord Hotel in Grapevine, TX. The presentation began with the sobering fact that over 80,000 home health workers are assaulted every year. Lee went on to detail the risks faced by home health care workers. Some of these risks include inclement weather, difficult parking, road hazards, dangerous animals and unsafe workspaces inside the home. Also present are social risks including verbal abuse and assault from patients and friends and family, people under the influence and harassment by others in the neighborhood.
Once the profile of risk was identified, Lee outlined 6 strategies to protect workers:
- Communicate – Effective safety policies are those that are understood throughout the organization.
- Contract outside vendors – Finding safety products and vendors that have your organization’s safety concerns in mind can be very helpful in creating policy and actionable follow through.
- Investigate all reports – All safety reports deserve a thorough investigation and post-mortem to find out exactly what has happened and what action should be taken to correct and prevent future incidents.
- Technology – Personal safety devices like the SoloProtect ID are a tangible way to invest in the safety of your staff. The peace of mind that comes with protecting employees and the ROI that comes with having a dedicated safety solution is hugely beneficial to home health organizations.
- Training – Making sure that the entirety of your staff is trained in safety techniques is imperative to a dynamic safety policy.
- Safety plan – Have a written policy for both employee and employer to adhere to for guidance, training, and reporting.
The session was well attended and included a lively Q & A to finish, touching on the benefits and reporting features of SoloProtect’s client portal, Insights.
Next up were two leadership conferences in the Carolinas at “Firmly Anchored in Our Mission to Lead and Serve” in Wrightsville Beach with the Association for Home and Hospice Care of North Carolina, and the South Carolina Home Care and Hospice Association for “Rising to New Heights Together” in Greenville. The focus was again on education as the SoloProtect team spoke to attendees.
Both conferences featured a presentation from SoloProtect’s Business Development Manager Keith Raynor. His presentation took a close look at what personal safety devices are available to lone workers currently and the pros and cons of each. There are many form factors available now but choosing a discreet option like the SoloProtect ID means that a situation will not be escalated by the presence of a “panic button.” Cell phone apps were also discussed, however, the use of an app necessitates the phone being on your person which poses difficulty when administering care. Not only would it be physically cumbersome, but as one attendee mentioned, it communicates to the patient that the nurse or aide is not focused on them.
The presentation then shifted to the necessary features of a lone worker safety device. GPS location, discreet in nature, and a 24-hour monitoring center of trained operators were all crucial for home health applications. The SoloProtect ID encompasses all of these as well as multiple ‘Red Alert' activation options, incapacitation detection, usage reporting through Insights, and more.
From there, Keith detailed what should go into a safety policy. For many companies, the creation of policy is necessitated by an inciting incident. Keith stressed that policy leads to adoption and adoption means that users will continually execute all recommended safety actions.
The presentation finished with three keys to enforcing and managing safety policies:
- Expectations – Setting up staff and management for success by making clear exactly what is expected in terms of safety standards, training, protective device usage, and policy.
- Reporting – It is important to be able to measure the effectiveness and usage of lone worker safety devices. Thorough reporting enables management to help employees get the training they need if usage is down and to see the return on investment.
- Reevaluation – Continually reviewing policy, incident reports, and user feedback creates investment in a vibrant and fresh safety culture.
The session closed with a strong discussion of what health care leaders are currently doing to keep their staff safe and where improvements could be made. While many employers spoke to having some safety training in place, only a few had formal policies or dedicated safety devices for their lone working staff.
Health care industry leaders have a deep commitment to the population they serve as well as their employees and that is manifesting into a desire for increased protection. Lone working staff in the field face risks as diverse as the communities they serve and the services they provide. Implementing measures to mitigate this risk like the SoloProtect ID provides the benefit of knowing that your staff is safe as well as the business benefits of reduced attrition, incident evidence should an issue lead to litigation and the cost benefit associated with safety devices and programs such as rebates on workers compensation insurance.
Reach out to the SoloProtect team today to find out more about how we can help you write a safety policy that works and how the SoloProtect ID can protect employees from the risks they face on-the-job.
Article Published 11.15.2018