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17.8 Children and Families: Lone Working Policy and Procedures

Contents

  1. Policy Statement
  2. Policy Objectives
  3. Lone Workers
  4. Responsibility of Managers
  5. Responsibilities of Front Line Staff
  6. Working Alone at the Place of Employment
  7. Personal Safety on Lone Working Home Visits
  8. Incident Report Form
  9. Training Matters

    Appendix A: Risk Assessment Checklist for Violence and Lone Working

    Appendix B: Guidance for Home Visits by Lone Workers

    Appendix C: Operational Guidance for Lone Working: To be read in conjunction with the Lone Working Policy

    Appendix D: Lone Working Incident Report Form


1. Policy Statement

It is the Department of Health and Social Care’s duty as an employer to assess risks to its employees, to take steps to remove risk insofar as it is reasonably practicable to do so and review these arrangements regularly.
(The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 2003).

The purpose of this policy is to ensure that the Children and families Division (C&F) has the necessary systems and working practices, both in place and maintained, to ensure the safety of all employees undertaking lone working.


2. Policy Objectives

The specific objectives of the policy are to ensure that:

  • Responsibilities are clear at all levels of C&F;
  • Managers take steps to remove and control risks and to review such arrangements regularly;
  • Specific arrangements are made to risk assessment potentially dangerous situations;
  • Systems and processes are adopted which will provide for lone workers safety;
  • Training is provided on the lone working policy and procedures, as well as training in the practical safety issues relating to the specific role of lone workers;
  • Only those employees who have completed the relevant training undertake lone working.


3. Lone Workers

The Security Management Service (2005) describes lone workers as “a wide variety of staff who work, either regularly or only occasionally on their own and without access to immediate support from managers or other colleagues”, e.g. working alone in social care premises, other community settings and service users’ homes.


4. Responsibility of Managers

Managers have a duty to ensure that:

  • Activities during which employees may be at risk are identified by assessing the risk and implementing and recording the appropriate control measures. (See Appendix A: Risk Assessment Checklist for Violence and Lone Working);
  • Arrangements are in place to record the whereabouts of lone workers routinely not just when a risk is known;
  • There is a system in place for staff to routinely report that they are safe at the end of a visit or other lone working session and for action to be taken immediately in the event of no contact from an employee;
  • Induction and on-going training is provided for employees, including:
    • Local procedures around personal safety;
    • Understanding and carrying out risk assessments;
    • Control measures;
    • Incident reporting.
  • The implementation of control measures is monitored;
  • All personal safety incidents are reported at divisional and departmental level, recorded, investigated and that action is taken to try to prevent a recurrence;
  • Employees are able to discuss openly with their line managers any concern about their personal safety and well-being at any time, real or perceived;
  • They are supportive to employees who have been subjected to violence or any other unacceptable conduct and that a request for help, is not regarded as a professional failure or as a sign of weakness;
  • Appropriate sanctions are implemented to demonstrate that proven acts of violence, intimidation or any other acceptable conduct towards an employee will not be tolerated.


5. Responsibilities of Front Line Staff

Staff members have a duty to:

  • Adhere to the guidelines and procedures outlined for managing personal safety;
  • Check the current risk assessment prior to lone working;
  • Not to place themselves unnecessarily “at risk”;
  • When lone working with young people, to choose a venue that provides confidentiality rather than privacy, preferably where the employee can be seen by other adults;
  • Discuss potentially dangerous situations with their line manager, requesting a risk assessment and support if they feel vulnerable;
  • share information with their line manager/nominated contact person regarding their whereabouts, how long they will be there, and the expected time of return, and to report all incidents and concerns about personal safety to the line manager;
  • Discuss training needs with their line manager through the appraisal/performance management processes;
  • Attend any mandatory training;
  • Adhere to the agreed system for reporting at the end of a visit that they are safe, where causes for concern have already been identified.


6. Working Alone at the Place of Employment

Where possible, employees should; avoid being alone at their place of work, but where this is necessary employees should:

  • Ensure that their line manager knows where they are, how they can be contacted and how long they will be;
  • Avoid the use of lifts when lone working;
  • Check in on an agreed contact number or at an agreed location on completion of the task; and
  • Ensure that their mobile phone is switched on and accessible.


7. Personal Safety on Lone Working Home Visits

When making visits, employees have responsibility to take reasonable precautions for their own health and safety and that of others with whom they are working who may be at risk. (See Appendix B: Guidelines for Visits by Lone Workers).

Home visits out of usual working hours should be discussed with the line manager and appropriate precautions agreed and documented. This is especially relevant to Out of Hours Workers. The operational guidance to follow for all staff to refer to in the event that a social worker does not confirm they are safe after a lone visit when expected to do so is set out in Appendix C: Operational Guidance for Lone Working: To be read in conjunction with the Lone Working Policy.


8. Incident Report Form

It is critical for staff in particular, and the service more generally, that any incidents relating to lone working which have potentially or actually put the worker at risk are reported in a timely manner. To this end staff are expected to complete an Incident Report Form within one day of the incident occurring. This should be sent to the relevant team and group manager and copied to the Head of Social Work Statutory Services and the Director. The form to be used is reproduced in Appendix D: Lone Working Incident Report Form.


9. Training Matters

There are 2 courses that are recommended for staff members in the Division who are likely to find themselves in lone working situations. This is described below.

1.

Management of Aggressive and Potentially Aggressive Behaviour (De-Escalation Training)

  Length of course: One Day (further attendance is required within 2 years to maintain certification)
  Time of course: 9.00am – 5.00pm
  Venue: The Lodge
  Designed for: Any staff member employed within the DHSC or those who are exposed to potentially aggressive or violent situations at work
  Brief description: This training is designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills required to de-escalate a potentially aggressive or violent situation. It focuses mainly on appropriate verbal intervention methods but does involve some physical intervention in the form of personal safety techniques.
  Award: This course is accredited by the Crisis Prevention Institute and a certificate will be issued for those who actively participate and complete a brief post-test. Numbers will be limited so advance booking is required. For further information; contact 642925

2.

Emergency First Aid at Work (1 day course)

  Length of course: One day
  Time of course: 09.30 – 17.00
  Designed for: This course is for anyone who works in Government acting as a support First Aider at work and Lone Workers within the Department of Health and Social Care.
  Brief description: The content of this course provides basic lifesaving first aid and workplace health and safety regulations.
  Course Content:
  • The role of the first aider;
  • Managing an emergency;
  • Bleeding (minor and severe);
  • Communication and casualty care;
  • Seizures (adult);
  • Burns;
  • Choking;
  • Fainting;
  • Health and safety (first aid) regulations;
  • Resuscitation (adult CPR);
  • Shock;
  • Unconscious casualty.
  Assessment: Continuous assessment and observation by the trainer.
  Certification: Successful candidates will receive a St John Ambulance certificate which is valid for three years.
  Contact: For further information; contact 651420

The courses are organised through LEaD. It is a Manager’s responsibility to ensure that relevant staff members are booked to attend the most relevant of these courses. This should happen on appointment and at the agreed intervals for refresher training.


Appendix A: Risk Assessment Checklist for Violence and Lone Working

Click here to view Appendix A: Risk Assessment Checklist for Violence and Lone Working.


Appendix B: Guidance for Home Visits by Lone Workers

  • Check that mobile phones, personal alarms (if carried), torches (if carried), etc. are fully charged and in good working order;
  • Carry an up to date ID card with a photograph;
  • Wear appropriate clothing;
  • Obtain background information on the person to be visited. As far as possible initial visits should be carried out by two employees;
  • Plan the visit in advance, know where you are going and leave sufficient time to undertake the journey safely;
  • Where possible, give prior notification of a visit to people being visited;
  • Check the person’s file for any relevant information e.g. history of violence, special needs, hazards (e.g. poor lighting), information from other agencies etc. and implement any necessary control measures;
  • Questions that may need to be asked, include:
    • Who else will be there at the visit?
    • Will it be dark?
    • Will alcohol, drugs or any other substances have been consumed or used by the service user being visited?
  • Where there is a risk of violence, a risk assessment will need to be undertaken to ensure appropriate control measures/procedures are in place (e.g. visit in pairs);
  • Where there is a risk of violence, consideration should be given as to whether a home visit is appropriate;
  • Speak to the line manager regarding any concerns about visiting the service user;
  • Ensure that the line manager is aware of the venue for the visit, how long it will last and the expected time of return;
  • Have access to a mobile phone;
  • Park in the direction by which you need to depart;
  • Never enter premises without being invited;
  • If a child answers the door ask to speak to an adult;
  • Check the identity of the person being spoken to;
  • Make identity clear and the reasons for the visit where prior notification of the visit is not practicable due to the nature of the visit;
  • If there is an aggressive reception, or the person/people appear to be under the influence of alcohol, drugs or other substances; do not enter the premises;
  • If faced with an unfriendly dog ask the person if they would be prepared to put it in another room;
  • Try and stay located nearest the door;
  • If you feel uncomfortable make an excuse to leave and inform your line manager;
  • If you suffer violence or abuse, report it to your line manager and complete an Incident Report Form;
  • Any such incidents should be discussed with your line manager and a note made in the service user’s file (follow written procedures);
  • There may be occasions when the sharing of information regarding service users who are violent or potentially violent could help prevent violence in the future. Under the Data Protection Act, information can be shared with other Departments or, where appropriate, external organisations, if the sharing of information is of a public nature and in the public interest.


Appendix C: Operational Guidance for Lone Working: To be read in conjunction with the Lone Working Policy

Electronic diaries

  • Children and Families staff member should include the full name of who they are seeing, venue details for the appointment/visit. The start and expected end time of the visit should also be made clear;
  • If there is any change to the above, staff member should ring the office to request the white board be updated. The Admin Officer who takes the call must update the board;
  • If the staff member has not returned when stated:
    • They will be contacted by an Admin Officer who will also alert the Manager (or another Manager if they are not available);
    • The Admin Officer will check the boards at a minimum of hourly.

Whiteboard 

Staff must record on the whiteboard:

  • Their whereabouts within Murray House if they are attending a meeting etc;
  • Any external meetings/visits by location only (i.e. Ramsey/Port Erin) and when they will return (the full detail of their location must be recorded in their electronic diary);
  • Lunch times;
  • Annual leave or other agreed absences should also be noted with expected return date and/or time.

The Admin Officer or Manager will note on the whiteboard if a worker has confirmed sickness.

If the staff member is out on consecutive visits, they must record expected start and end times for each visit and contact an Admin Officer between visits to confirm they are moving to the next.

Late or Early Working

  • Any plans to work outside of core hours must be agreed in advance with the Line Manager;
  • Any emergency requirements to work outside of core hours must be discussed with the Line Manager or another Manager in their absence;
  • In such circumstances, agreement will be made with the staff member about who they will contact before the visit (if early) to confirm their whereabouts, or after to confirm the end of the visit. The point of contact may be the Duty Social Worker or the Manager the visit was agreed with. Whoever is the agreed point of contact at the start or conclusion of the visit must be briefed in full about the start and end times, the exact location and whether or not there are any known risk factors.

OOH duty

  •  If there are any unplanned, emergency requests for a worker to visit a family or child out of hours, the Duty Social Worker must always contact the on call Manager to confirm the request – purpose of visit, who they are visiting and where, whether or not they are visiting alone or with the Police or others, and whether there are any known risk factors;
  • A determination will be made on an individual basis in respect of safe working arrangements but this must be in line with the principles of the Lone Working Policy. This should factor an assessment of risk if the worker is alone and agreement about when the worker will contact the Manager regarding on going status;
  • If the on call Manager does not receive a call at the agreed time, they must contact the duty social worker;
  • If the manager cannot get a response within 30 minutes of the agreed time, they must alert the Senior On Call Manager. At this point, further actions will be agreed dependent on perceived risk. This may include a visit to the location by the manager or the Police;
  • The Duty Social Worker must always have the mobile phone accessible and fully charged;
  • Any requests for a planned out of hours visits must be submitted in writing, signed off by the staff member’s line manager and then submitted to a Supervising Social Worker (IRT) or Group Manager. The request must be clear if there are any known additional risk factors (as well as the purpose). This will determine the appropriateness of a lone visit on an out of hours/emergency basis;
  • During planned visits, the Duty Social Worker and Manager must follow the above steps.

Risk

  •  In an event where a worker perceives they are at risk at any point when phoning in or being phoned and they cannot express this or leave the location, they need to say “Could you please put me through to Extension 13”;
  • The Lone Working Policy must be followed in regard to risk management and assessment.

Use of Rooms 

  • The bookable rooms within children and families should be used where possible within working hours. Workers need to ensure where possible that service users have left the building by 5.00pm Mon to Thur and 4.30pm on a Friday, in order that they can exit via the public entrance. In exceptional circumstances, where appointments cannot be made within working hours, individual agreement should be made with the workers line manager. This worker should advise what other staff will be present and accessible on the floor for the duration of this meeting (at least one other worker must agree to be present). All meetings should commence no later than 5.15pm and the duration should be proportionate. This must be subject to risk assessment indicating that either the individual or the subject for discussion does not create a situation in which workers could be vulnerable to attack or allegations;
  • Where there is a risk assessment or concern suggesting that a meeting with a service user could make the worker vulnerable to attack (or allegation), the worker must discuss in the first instance with their line manager. A risk assessment should be complete (if it has not been already) and there should be consideration of the need for this meeting to have at least two workers present. The panic alarm should also be taken into the meeting where physical threat may be possible. These are available via the team secretaries if needed and instruction for use can be provided by the Protocol support team. In these circumstances secretarial workers should be advised of when the meeting is to start and finish in order that there can be some external vigilance should the panic alarm be activated. Meetings that take place in this context must be conducted within working hours and service users must have left the building by 5.00pm via the public entrance (4.30pm on a Friday).

Nicola Couling
Head of Statutory Social Work Services
July 2017


Appendix D: Lone Working Incident Report Form

Click here to view Appendix D: Lone Working Incident Report Form.

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