Up to 95% of healthcare professionals have experienced verbal or physical assault in the workplace, according to WorkSafe Victoria.
The healthcare industry comprises of many medical professions, including those who work as disability support workers.
Workers in the disability support sector can be confronted with aggression from not only clients and other residents, but also visiting family and even bystanders reacting to a stressful situation.
Occupational aggression can be in the form of gestures and expressions, verbal abuse, and intimidating physical behaviour. Over time, these incidents can have a significant effect on a disability worker’s wellbeing and productivity.
Often working alone or out of business hours, disability support workers should be able to feel safe and secure wherever they are, whether it is in a client’s home or a public setting.
A MePACS duress alarm can give disability support workers the peace of mind that comes with a 24/7 emergency response service, ensuring that help is always available at any time of the day or night.
MePACS can support people working as disability support workers in two ways:
- To feel safe and secure as a lone worker, knowing help is only one press away
- To communicate on behalf of their client in the case of an emergency
Lone Worker Safety for disability support workers
Anyone who works in isolation, at a client’s house or located in a work environment by themselves is considered a lone worker. In disability care, this can include people who work as home care workers, speech pathologists, support coordinators or occupational therapists.
Disability care workers can work independently out in the community and will often visit the client’s home.
Before any of these visits take place, it is advised that a Risk Assessment Evaluation should be conducted to ensure that the home/community setting is safe and potential risks are assessed and mitigated.
This Risk Assessment review can include, but not be limited to:
- Reviewing the ‘high risks accommodations’ list
- Reviewing the client’s medical history
- Understanding any known emotional or psychological concerns
- Understanding the client’s mobility and equipment
- Acknowledging the client’s living arrangements, including any pets
- Acknowledging family dynamics
If a disability support worker feels unsafe or threatened during a home visit, they should calmly take steps to remove themselves from the environment. If they cannot do this, they can raise a duress alarm to MePACS for help, which can often de-escalate the situation.
Verbal and physical assault in the workplace can cause ongoing stress for an employee, which can affect productivity levels and have a direct impact on the company itself.
Lone worker safety is the employers’ responsibility and they must ensure that their staff feel safe and supported in their role.
A MePACS duress safety alarm is a great tool to provide reassurance to lone workers so they can call for help if they find themselves in an unsafe situation or have concern for their safety.
Introducing a duress alarm may also lead to an increase in staff retention through better morale, as well as reduce employee stress and sick leave.
Duress lone worker system for disability support workers
If an accident, emergency or aggressive situation were to occur, disability workers can be isolated from help and assistance. Carrying a duress alarm on their person can provide support and emergency assistance if required.
The Duress Alarm System offered by MePACS is a small alarm, the size of a pendant, which can quickly and easily be activated in the event of an issue. It is connected to a 24/7 response service monitored by trained professionals and has two way communication, so the user can share what is happening and the operator can know where to send help.
As a senior clinician in the Adult Community Mental Health team at Peninsula Health, Matt Baynes says he feels “more confident” going into a client’s house with his MePACS duress alarm.
“We’ve had a couple of incidences when we pressed the alarm for further assistance as we were by ourselves and quite vulnerable. The duress alarm gives people like me, who are lone workers, peace of mind that they are safe – it’s practical and it means we can get the help we need straight away.”
72% of users with the MePACS Duress Alarm say they feel less stressed or significantly less stressed at work having the MePACS Duress Alarm than they did before, with no alarm.
How does a MePACS Duress Alarm work?
In the event of an incident, the user can press the help button and the signal will go through to the MePACS response centre and be answered by trained professionals within two minutes.
The operators will talk to the user via the duress alarm, listen to the situation and then call for the most appropriate help, which could be a manager, an ambulance, or the police. All calls are recorded and can be used later as evidence, if required.
The duress alarm works anywhere with mobile reception, which is indicated on the alarm by two lights – green for good coverage, and orange for insufficient coverage.
MePACS duress alarms have the following features which can help a disability support worker to feel safe and secure while meeting with a client:
- Quick and simple to use
- One button activation
- Two way communications via the alarm
- Mobile alarms are splash proof
- GPS locator in Duress Alarm
81% of users with a MePACS Duress Alarm feel safer when out and about.
How can a MePACS Duress Alarm help with a client’s welfare?
While the duress alarm is held and used by the disability worker, it can also be used to communicate on behalf of their client in the event of a medical emergency.
Ideally, the client should also have a personal alarm. If they don’t have one or cannot press it themselves in the event of a medical emergency, then the disability worker may press their own duress alarm and speak to an operator, who can call 000 and get the necessary help as soon as possible for their client.
MePACS is also a registered provider of personal alarms under the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), a national program that provides personalised support and access to services for people with disabilities. For eligible Australians under 65, the program can offer support in the form of everyday living assistance, home modifications and assistive technologies, including devices that can assist with communication and personal safety alarms such as MePACS.