There are a number of occupations that involve meeting people in their own homes. This often involves interacting with people that they have never previously encountered.
Any lone working job has its risks, if an employee was to find themselves in an emergency whilst alone, getting help could be challenging. For those employees walking into a stranger’s home, this risk is heightened greatly. Reaching for your phone in a hostile situation could aggravate the attacker and make a potentially life-threatening situation worse.
Staff that most frequently carry out housing visits include, community nurses, psychiatrists, social workers and housing officers. With one thing in common, their job can involve working with some of the most vulnerable people in our society. Due to the very nature of the services they provide, these employees interact with people that have complex needs. Some of which may have learning disabilities, suffer from addiction or have mental illnesses.
One in Ten Housing Staff Taken Hostage
Personal safety charity, Suzy Lamplugh Trust have revealed that more than one in ten social housing staff have been taken hostage at some point in their career. With figures from the Office of National Statistics stating that there are over 120,000 housing officers and approximately 60,000 community workers in the UK, keeping each and every one safe is a priority.
One case in particular sparked significant awareness of this rising issue. In 2006, 22-year-old mental health community worker Ashleigh Ewing was stabbed 39 times when visiting a mentally ill patient. Although this shocking case did cause great concern among many, it’s clear that more needs to be done in order to prevent workers lives being at risk.
Below are some of Guardian24’s top tips for those visiting homes:
Before conducting a housing visit:
Where possible, try and arrange home visits accompanied by other members of staff. It’s always good to have someone with you for backup in an emergency.
Let people know where you are going. Add appointment times to your email calendar with contact details on exactly where it is you’re travelling to.
Before knocking on the door:
Carry out a mini risk assessment before entering. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings.
Park in a well-lit, non-secluded area. This will be beneficial after your meeting is finished.
During the housing visit:
Trust your instincts. if you feel uneasy about anything, take action as its always better to be safe than sorry.
Avoid sitting in the kitchen. this area of the house is easily accessible to objects that could be used as weapons.
Avoid giving any personal information. such as a mobile number or house address.
Carry a personal safety device. It will provide employees with backup and protection when nobody is around to do so. Guardian24’s innovative lone worker protection service offers a range of personal safety devices and apps that can be carried discreetly whilst working alone. With one press of the devices SOS button, an alarm is triggered and received by Guardian24’s 24-hour Alarm Receiving Centre. With the devices two – way audio functionality, trained Controllers are able to silently listen in and assess the situation. They are able to send emergency help to the user’s exact location, if required. A duress code can also be set up within the users online Customer Service Centre portal that can be used to signify to the Controllers that you are in trouble without alerting the aggressor.