Caregiver Safety Tips

January 31, 2020

Home health care is a growing industry. With the onset of an aging population and ever-increasing hospital rates and fees, it is no wonder families have turned to in-home care to address the needs of their loved ones. However, this does not come without an increase in risk factors either.  “Home health aides employed by agencies have a reported incidence rate of 15.3 nonfatal illnesses and injuries per 100 workers, compared with 3.9 per 100 workers employed in the health care private sector, such as physician’s offices” according to the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI).

At True Care, we do our best to train our caregivers in all aspects of the home care environment. Below are some essential steps each caregiver should take both on and off the job.

Think ahead 

Dress professionally and functionally. Make sure your clothes and shoes are appropriate for work. More than just a dress code this is for your safety while in your client’s home. Proper dress and footwear can prevent unnecessary injury to both the client and caregiver.

Keep valuables out of sight. Carry as little as possible. It’s best to leave valuables at home. Carry bags that have zippers to ensure your belongings are not at risk of falling out of your bag.

Know exactly where you’re going. If you’ve never been to a certain location, get familiar with the area first. Use the internet to look at where the train stop/bus stops are and the best path to get where you need to go. It’s also important to look for areas in the neighborhood where you can go for help, in case of an emergency.

Be strategic. Know your bus/train schedule. Choose a stop and a path that is well lit and busy.  Carry a flashlight or whistle and make sure your phone is charged and accessible. Getting yourself to and from your client’s home safely and on time is just as important as the work you do while you are there.

During the visit

Stay in touch. Make sure you clock in and out appropriately. This helps us know where you are should you or your client require assistance of any sort.

Guard your privacy. Do not give out personal information or details about where you live.

Be mindful of your presence on social media. Monitor your privacy settings on sites like Facebook and Instagram. Avoid sharing things that could provide others with information about your current location, where you live, and so on.

Set expectations. There are tasks you can and can’t do. This is for you and your client’s protection as well as a state requirement. 

Be aware of your surroundings

Know the signs of intoxication. If someone is impaired such as with drugs or alcohol, contact the proper authorities and report it immediately.

Stay alert and watch for signs of abuse, threats, the presence of weapons at all times.

Be aware of others. Be mindful of others outside of your client in the apartment/house for confidentiality and safety reasons.

Try to keep a clear path to the door. Know your means of exit at all times. Know where bathrooms are and windows with a fire escape. You may need to remove yourself from an unsafe situation.

Keep your cell phone with you. Not away from you in a bag, purse, or car. You need to have access to communicate any issues, problems, or safety hazards as soon as they arise.

If you or your client are in an unsafe situation

Maintain behavior that helps defuse anger. Exude a calm and caring demeanor. This will not only help you take control of the situation but also help keep your client calm as well.

Avoid behaviors that may be interpreted as aggressive. Maintain a safe and comfortable distance from yourself and any person in the room. Use a calm yet audible speaking voice. Avoid speaking too loudly or moving too quickly as these can be interpreted as agitation.

Listen to your internal warning signals. Trust yourself to know if and when you are in danger. Call 911 if you or your client are in a situation where you may not be safe (ex. verbal or physical abuse, robbery, accident, etc.)

Lastly, be sure to take care of your well being after the workday is done. As the famous quote by Eleanor Brown states, “Rest and self-care are so important. You cannot serve from an empty vessel.” Learn How to Avoid Caregiver Burnout and you will always be ready for the day ahead.

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