Safety Considerations for Home Care Support Workers
Home care support workers are faced with many health and safety risks every day. Their duty to provide care and assistance means dealing with risks like general hazards (falls and slips), infections, and stress. It is up to employers to provide safety support systems for their home carer employees.
Taking active steps that address these problems enables you to make it safer for your home carers to provide care. This, in turn, improves the quality of care your clients receive.
This article will help you identify the risks your home carers face each day and how you can best secure their safety through workable considerations and lone worker care solutions.
In this article:
- Duties of Home Care Support Workers
- Understanding the Safety Risks Home Carers Face
- Employers’ Legal Obligations on Home Carer Safety
- 5 Considerations for Home Carer Safety
Duties of Home Care Support Workers
Home care support workers provide care, assistance, and companionship to seniors and people living with disabilities. Aged care agencies and private households often employ them. Some are self-employed or volunteers for charitable organisations.
As the job title implies, home carers provide care while in their client’s home or private residence. Examples of the kind of care and assistance home care support workers include:
- Providing bedside care like bathing, personal hygiene, and dressing
- Planning and preparing meals and assisting with feeding
- Helping with taking medication and changing medical dressings
- Companionship or someone to talk to while at home
Understanding the Safety Risks Home Carers Face
Despite the positive impact many home care support workers provide their clients, they are not exempt from facing health and safety hazards while at work. As they fulfil their duties, many of them can face these risks:
- Hazards such as slips and falls when providing general care
- Burns and cuts from preparing meals
- Physical stress from lifting and carrying heavy loads
- Illness or infection from assisting medical care
- Fatigue and mental stress from working long hours or in emotional/challenging circumstances
- Workplace violence and abuse (in extreme instances)
Employer’s Legal Obligations on Home Carer Safety
As the employer, you are obligated to provide a safe work environment for the home carers on your payroll. The Occupational Health and Safety Act of 2004 (OHS) (and Health and Safety at Work Act, for those of you in New Zealand) is clear on the things you must do to ensure a safe and risk-free workplace for your home care support workers. This is particularly important since many carers are in their clients’ homes most of the time. As such, they can be classified as lone workers too.
Make it a point to remind your employees to comply with company-mandated safety rules and regulations. The best way to do so is to hold regular training that imbues a culture of health and safety among your employees. Just as you’re required to ensure a safe work environment for your home carers, they are also responsible for their health and safety while in the client’s home.
5 Considerations for Home Carer Safety
Here are some safety considerations to note so that you can ensure an injury-free workday for home care support workers:
1. Assess the Community Beforehand
The community your client lives in influences a home care support worker’s safety. Getting to the client’s home is every home carer’s first task of the day. If there are no commute routes that make the house accessible, you should help your employee find a means of transportation.
Make sure you scout the area first if you’re assigning a home carer to a new community for the first time. Learn the community’s ins and outs and tell your employee where the essential places are, such as the grocery, hospital, or senior centre.
2. Check for Household Hazards
It’s time to check up on your client’s household after scouting your client’s community. No matter how well kept, a client’s home can still hide a few hazards. Loose carpets and exposed wires pose hazards both to your employees and clients.
It’s important to raise these risks to your client right away. Doing this ensures that your employee focuses on what’s important—caring for the client.
3. Get Plenty of Rest
Going to work after having a good night’s sleep ensures that employees are physically and mentally prepared to provide care and assistance to clients. Encourage your home carers to get plenty of rest before showing up for work.
4. Stay Protected
Personal safety, even while in the client’s home, is of utmost importance. Remind your home carers of these basic safety protocols:
- Confirm the visit with the client before sending a home carer over
- Wear a face mask and gloves, especially if the client has a contagious condition
- Set regular check-ins (SMS or quick phone call) with you through the day
- Bring a personal safety kit during every client visit
- Have emergency numbers on speed dial
- Wear a personal alarm
5. Know Basic Emergency First Aid
First aid refers to helping someone immediately after they’ve experienced an accident or injury. Accidents can happen at any time. Educating your home carers on the basics of first aid enables them to help clients recover during accidents.
Learn more about basic first aid and the recommended DRSABCD Action Plan by HealthDirect.
Securing Home Carer Safety With Tunstall Healthcare
At Tunstall Healthcare, we’ve dedicated ourselves to helping employers like you to protect your people. Our remote solutions like the myCareAssist+ app and personal alarms like the Tunstall GO are designed to secure lone workers’ safety as they fulfil their day-to-day duties. Let us help you ensure your employees’ safety today so you can focus on delivering positive health outcomes for your clients.