Taking Staff Safety to New Levels

The environmental and social conditions of home care require providers to approach staff and patient safety much differently than is the case in more controlled settings, like hospitals.

These conditions in the home care setting are often specific to a particular situation or case — whether it’s a hostile family member in the home or how to handle infection control or the risk of blood-borne pathogen transmission. The risks can change every time a nurse, therapist, or home health aide walks through a patient’s front door, which is one reason why home care is a discrete practice setting with distinct requirements, competencies and best-practices.

State and federal regulations have created an important base of protections, especially for patient safety. But it’s also important for providers to have in place rigorous procedures, techniques, escalation protocols, and other operational designs of their own in league with home care licensure and practice expertise.

Such is the goal of a national panel working to gather best-practices from the field to prevent and reduce safety risks. As a member of this national panel, HCA is eager to highlight some of the innovative work that providers in New York State are doing in this area, like the example set by Visiting Nurse Services in Westchester to ensure the personal safety of its staff.

VNS Westchester Staff Safety Alerting Program

As Crain’s Health Pulse reported earlier this month, VNS Westchester recently completed a pilot program utilizing a personal safety device for 25 home care workers. The device, developed by Peace of Mind Co., was initially designed for college campuses. VNS Westchester was the first to use it in the health care setting, and now plans to roll it out to all 200 of its field-based staff.

The device is basically a life-alert button for every home care worker. It can connect to a dispatcher who is able to send emergency services if necessary. The system also has mobile check-ins and checkouts.

The program “shows the staff that we take their safety as a priority,” says VNS Westchester CEO Tim Leddy. Krzystof Dragan, an RN at VNS Westchester, adds: “Home care can be an unpredictable environment. You don’t know what you’ll find when you walk through the door of a patient’s home, by yourself, in terms of the behavior of patients, family members or others who may be present.”

To learn more, read the Crain’s Health Pulse article here.