Housing Association Lone Workers Protected by Guardian24
Notting Hill Housing Group (NHHG) is one of London’s leading housing associations and the pioneer of shared ownership. NHHG manages over 30,000 properties across the Capital, providing support to residents of all ages. NHHG introduced shared ownership to the UK in 1980, and has since helped more than 5,500 people onto the London property ladder.
NHHG currently employs more than 1,000 staff and works with more than 300 volunteers every year. Approximately 70% of these employees have aspects of their role where they are required to work out of the office in the community. Take Housing Officers as an example of a role within NHHG where lone working may occur whilst performing customer facing duties. Staff can be working on different site locations operating across the whole of London visiting a range of residents including the elderly, vulnerable and those with mental health issues.
The level of risk that staff face can vary, from visiting empty or remote properties to being at risk of verbal or physical abuse whilst dealing with confrontational clients. The challenge facing NHHG is to ensure they are meeting their ‘duty of care’ to their employees by offering a personal safety protection solution.
NHHG has worked with Guardian24 for over 10 years, joining us as a valued client in 2003. Over 400 of NHHG’s staff are now protected using the Guardian24 personal safety solution. Jacqueline Olulana, Health, Safety & Environmental Advisor for NHHG explains why they chose Guardian24 as their preferred supplier.
NHHG wanted a personal safety system that would be easily adopted by our staff. Ease of use was key so we wanted a solution that could quickly and easily fit into the working day of our customer facing employees. We also wanted to work with a company that provided a high quality support service and Guardian24 came up top on both accounts.
Originally when NHHG implemented Guardian24 in 2003, the solution was used via standard mobile phones and then via a specialised personal safety device. This worked well for NHHG and this solution was in use for many years. However, with technological advances and with Guardian24’s in-house development team working on new and exciting updates, most of the users in NHHG moved to using the solution via their smartphones in 2011. This move suited the changing requirements of NHHG as it meant that the workers were no longer carrying a mobile and a separate lone worker device; all calls, emails and lone worker activities could be actioned on their phones.
Guardian24 has been flexible as our requirements and needs have changed over the years. We are able to mix and match what way our staff use Guardian24. Some of our staff still prefer to use the specialist personal safety device whilst others are able to use the Smartphone solution.
The Guardian24 service provides the employees off NHHG with two key features. The first is the ability to log their visits when they are going out in the community. Users can quickly and easily log an activity by calling the automated log line. They record details of their activity leaving information such as where they are going, who they are meeting and how long the visit will last. If all goes well the user simply calls the automated service to close the activity. However should something occur where the user cannot log out of the system, Guardian24 will automatically callthe user to verify their safety. If the user is not able to be contacted an escalation process begins until the user is located.
Employees of NHHG also log any out of office activities in their Outlook calendars. This provides a backup of information should the user have forgotten to log a Guardian24 activity. Therefore the Guardian24 log line is an additional safeguard to this process and allows managers to use and compare both elements to know the whereabouts of their staff. This also enables a quicker response should a situation arise were help is required.
The second feature is the ability for the user to raise a panic alarm. Should the user feel that their safety has been compromised, they can easily summon help quickly by discreetly pressing the panic button. At this stage the service will record live audio and immediately notify a nominated respondent who can locate the user via the GPS location fix.
NHHG use our BS5979 (Category II) certified Alarm Receiving Centre (ARC) as their respondent. This means NHHG users can be assured that should the need to raise a panic alarm be required, help will immediately be on hand. The ARC is manned 24/7, 365 days a year and gives management the peace of mind that an accredited body is available to act accordingly should an incident occur. This also takes pressure of managers to respond to calls as it is fully monitored by the ARC’s highly trained controllers.
Implementing the Guardian24 solution has provided many benefits to NHHG.
Guardian24 gives us the peace of mind that our staff are protected and that we are meeting our duty of care to our workers. Our staff feel valued by the company as they know we have invested in their safety and we take it as a high priority.
The staff of NHHG can go about their customer facing activities with the knowledge that should a situation arise where they feel their safety has been compromised they can feel reassured that they are not alone and help will be on hand should they need it.
NHHG are aware that staff participation is key for the solution to be effective. A policy was put in place that staff would be disciplined if the system wasn’t used correctly but no resistance was met as staff were trained on the benefits of Guardian24, they understood that it was for their own protection and it easily fitted into their daily routine.
NHHG use the Guardian24 web-based management portal to monitor the usage of the system. Management reports can give an insight into how many activities are being logged, how many panic alarms have been raised and also gives the ability to locate staff via GPS should a situation arise where help is required at the employee’s location.
Guardian24 look forward to continuing our partnership with NHHG to provide personal safety protection to their staff over the coming years.
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