How to Stay Safe On the Job as a Home Healthcare Aide
March 28 2019
These Tips will Help Keep You Safe While On the Job
Being a home healthcare worker means facing different kinds of risks than that of a regular hospital job. Those different risks can come in the form of car accidents, aggressive pets and even in some cases, violence. It is important that you make your own safety a top priority while on the job. You have many people counting on you and you can’t take care of others if you don’t first take care of yourself.
Be On Guard and Trust Your Instincts
Unlike the controlled environment of a hospital, a patient’s home can be unpredictable. Be aware of your surroundings and never go into a situation that makes you feel unsafe. If you are in a high-crime area and see activity near a client’s home that frightens you, drive a few blocks away and then call your supervisor to figure out how to proceed. Also learn to recognize warning signs. If you feel threatened in a home by a patient or family member, leave immediately then inform your supervisor of the situation.
Keep Your Eyes Wide Open
It is important to be aware of your surroundings. You’ll want to watch your step as you approach a home, making sure not to trip on cracks in the driveway or sidewalk. Some homes may even have a porch that is in disrepair, so watch out for rotting wood.
Once inside a home, do not remove your shoes as these will protect you from slipping or stubbing a toe. However, you must also be culturally sensitive to clients who prefer their guests go shoeless. Wear disposable surgical shoe covers or leave a clean pair of shoes at the house to where while you are there.
Some other things to watch out for include slippery bathroom floors and open cupboards. Sometimes we can get too focused on our patient and not notice these hazards.
Know Your Limits
One of the biggest risks while visiting with patients in their homes is overexertion, such as back injuries due to lifting or moving patients. Be sure to practice good body mechanics and to pace yourself. Build flexibility into your schedule so you aren’t tempted to take injury-inducing shortcuts. Take advantage of transfer systems and other assistive devices or use a buddy system or ask for help if possible.
Don’t forget to also take a break from time to time when you need it. Pushing yourself can lead to clouded judgment and thinking and the increased likelihood of an injury happening. Light stretching while on the job can help keep you limber.
Also be sure to exercise regularly, practice healthy sleeping habits and eat healthy meals. Keeping yourself healthy can stave off exhaustion and muddled thinking that may lead to an accident.
Leave the Pets Alone
Not only can animals distract you and interfere with your work, even the friendliest pet can turn on you. Your safest bet is to never touch a patient’s pet. You might even consider asking your clients to keep their pets kenneled up during your visit. If you do this, the whole team must be consistent with this. You don’t want a patient to feel upset when only one person on the team requests this.
Basic Personal-Safety Protocols
Don’t forget to follow basic personal-safety protocols. These include:
- Confirm with your clients by phone before your visit.
- Have detailed directions to a new client’s home.
- Know the location of nearby fire and police departments in case you need to drive there for safety.
- Keep your vehicle well maintained and have a full tank of gas.
- Pull over onto the shoulder or into a parking lot to answer phone calls, read directions and to view emails.
- Keep your car doors locked and your windows closed, especially if you are driving alone.
- Park your car in a well-lit area way from large trees or shrubs. Also avoid isolated areas such as alleys.
- Lock your bag, purse or any excess medical items in the trunk of your car to avoid things being stolen.
- Have an extra set of car keys in case you accidentally lock yours in the car.
- Make sure that someone knows where you are at all times and tell your employer when you expect to report back.
- Maintain behavior that diffuses anger, keeping yourself calm and not matching threats; always acknowledge other’s feelings.
- Keep your cell phone in your pocket while visiting patients.
- Always carry an ID.
- Carry a small flashlight to help you see while walking to and from your car in dark areas.
By following these safety tips, you will help keep yourself more safe while on the job. Taking care of others is a very satisfying career, but doing it safely means you will also be a more effective worker.