Home health care workers are incredibly important members of the health care community. They enrich the quality of life of each and every patient by keeping comfort, integrity, and dignity at the center of care programs. Unfortunately, home health care workers can face unique risks based on the varied environments in which they perform their work. From back injuries to unsavory neighborhood activity, the following safety tips for home health care workers cover a broad spectrum of risks.
Safety Tips for Home Health Care Workers
Use Common Sense
Working in home health care can be incredibly rewarding due to the one-on-one relationships home care workers develop with patients. Unfortunately, being removed from a controlled environment like a hospital does come with risks. Many home health care workers work alone, without the support of a partner or a nursing staff. For that reason, exercising common sense is one of the most important safety tips for home health care workers. To stay safe in any patient environment, home health care workers should take the following precautions:
- If you’re visiting a home for the first time, make sure you have clear directions so you aren’t wandering around an unfamiliar neighborhood.
- Protect your belongings by locking car doors and hiding any bags or valuables.
- Keep your cell phone within reach at all times in case of an emergency.
- Make sure your agency has emergency contact numbers on hand for you.
- Confirm that your agency knows your location at all times.
Listen to Your Body
Physical injury is always a risk in any strenuous healthcare occupation. Additionally, home health care workers often spend time in unfamiliar environments, which can lead to accidents like falls. Back injuries are also common, as home health care workers are often responsible for moving or lifting patients. If you’re in a home without a partner or buddy, make sure to listen to your body. When moving or lifting a patient, make sure to bend your knees deeply, exercise good posture, and watch your step. If you have a regular patient who is difficult to move or lift, consider asking your agency for a buddy to help you stay comfortable and safe.
Be Cautious with Pets
Home health care workers spend a lot of time in patients’ homes. That’s one of the joys of the job, as it allows workers to get to know patients and their family members – furry family members included. While some pets are friendly and open to new faces, others can be volatile. Make sure not to touch pets without first consulting your patient. Remember, you’re a newcomer in the pet’s territory.
Be Aware of Abusive Situations
Although rare, home health care workers can be especially vulnerable to violent or abusive situations since they often work alone. If you’re a home health care worker in a situation that makes you uneasy, always go with your gut. If you find yourself in a volatile situation with a patient or a visitor, stay calm. Regulate your tone of voice and your movements until you can reach a safe space. Once you’ve removed yourself from the situation, call your supervisor to let them know. If necessary, don’t hesitate to contact police. If you’re unsure how to identify threatening behavior, check out the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) for a variety of resources. Remember, your safety always comes first.
At Phoenix Home Care & Hospice, we’re so proud of the selfless work our home health care workers complete on a daily basis. We’re committed to keeping our staff happy, healthy, and safe. Interested in joining our team of home health care workers? To find out more about the Phoenix philosophy, visit our career center.