As a domiciliary care provider, lone working in care and the safety of our staff is paramount. At Gardiner’s Homecare, our staff travel to clients’ homes to offer help and support. Whilst our staff have round-the-clock support from the off team via our on-call service, they are nevertheless lone working in care and therefore potentially more vulnerable.
For all lone working in care, it is important to take certain steps to help make you safer:
- Be sure your mobile phone is fully charged.
- Make sure, that someone knows where you are going and what time to expect you back.
- Check that your car has plenty of fuel or charge.
- Join a breakdown service.
- Pack an emergency kit in your car, including a blanket, water, and a torch.
- Know where you are driving.
- Keep your doors locked whilst driving.
- Never respond to aggression from other drivers.
- Park as near your destination as possible.
- Reverse in when parking – this makes it easier to leave quickly.
- Avoid poorly lit areas where possible.
- Always walk against oncoming traffic to avoid curb crawlers.
- Consider carrying a personal alarm.
When going into a new situation, take note of how the door opens so that you can leave quickly if needed. Be mindful that you are entering someone else’s home. Your presence may occasionally be unwanted or even feel threatening.
If something or someone makes ever makes you feel uncomfortable, make an excuse and leave.
Remain aware of changes in behaviour, especially if the person is becoming angry or irritated. It is important to remain calm and to use your tone of voice and body language to calm the situation. Avoid touching or invading personal space (getting too close) since this can make things worse. If you are not able to de-escalate a situation you should:
- Get away from the aggressor by using distraction.
- Be assertive but not aggressive, tell them “I can’t help, I am going to get someone who can.”
- Shout “Call the police!” or use a personal safety alarm.
- Call the police if needed.
- Always report concerns to your manager, even minor concerns can help to build a picture.
Most smartphones now have Location services. Many applications rely upon this useful functionality, for example ‘Google maps’ or similar can be used to find your location or directions in a similar way to satnav systems.
Sharing your location on social media can be dangerous. When you post a status update, picture, etc, you are tagging your current location. This tells people where you are right now. Check the security and locations settings on your social media applications and think carefully about anything that you post online.
Free services that can be used by anyone to help stay safe.
- WhatsApp – offers live location sharing to selected contacts. Open WhatsApp, then choose a person or group to chat with. Click the Paperclip. Choose Location. Next choose ‘Share Live Location’. Select the amount of time to share your live location and add a comment. Start the chat. You can lock your phone too and put it in your pocket, it still tracks and plots your course so your chat recipients see you.
- Find my iPhone – is a pre-installed Apple app and you can share your location with selected contacts for 1 hour, 1 day or all the time
- iPhone Alarm – Press and hold side button with volume button an SOS slider appears, swipe your finger across and your location will be sent to emergency services, continue to hold and alarm will sound. Press the side button 5 times in a row and a countdown will start along with an alarm sound if this is not cancelled before the timer hits 1 the emergency services will be called.
- Hollie Guard – You can set up an emergency contact and activate by shaking the phone (or other user specified shortcuts) The contact will receive a link containing your GPS location. The app will also record audio and visual footage and upload to an in app ‘cloud’ to be downloaded when the user logs in from any other device.
- One scream – if you scream, this app send an emergency SOS message and location to your nominated contacts.
- Life 360 allows you to check in places and sends messages to your in app contacts. Friends and family on the app can check your location 24/7.
- Bright Sky provides practical support and information for anyone experiencing domestic abuse, or who is worried about someone else.