Healthcare workers in emergency departments, psychiatric units and geriatric facilities face much higher risks of assault than those in other healthcare settings. Those healthcare professionals who work alone like allied health and mental health workers are particularly vulnerable to patient violence with statistics from Worksafe Victoria reports up to 95% of general healthcare workers have experienced physical or verbal assault at some point during their profession.
The impact of COVID-19 on allied health professions
Well before the COVID-19 crisis our health system faced challenges with maintaining sufficient numbers of experienced health professionals to meet the growing demands from an ageing population and increases in chronic disease. Fast forward to 2021, there is now even greater need for allied health services with mental health an even greater priority for the Australian government. As a result, waitlists for our allied health services are climbing out of control and the need to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of our healthcare workers needs to not be forgotten.
What are risks for healthcare workers including allied health professionals like Occupational Therapists & Psychologists?
Rates of reported physical injury are particularly high in the healthcare sector in contrast to other industries.
WorkSafe Victoria claims that the rate of musculoskeletal disorders in the healthcare industry is 71.2%, compared to 54.8% elsewhere; while back injuries are at 31.8% compared to 22%; and manual handling related injuries are at 58.9% compared to 43.9% elsewhere (WorkSafe Victoria 2007).
When it comes to allied health professionals, they often work in a variety of environments including in standalone clinics, public health hospitals and in patients’ homes. They often work alone, unsupervised and behind closed doors, working long hours.
The risks to their health and safety can come in a variety of forms:
- mentally vulnerable patients and agitated bystanders
- lifting and moving both patients and workplace equipment
- slippery and uneven surfaces
- working alone and having no supervision
- workplace related stress
Working in a high-risk environment like a clinical practice can also cause ongoing stress and affect personal mental health. A duress alarm can relieve lone workers of their anxiety and give them the reassurance that they have guaranteed help whenever required, leading to increased morale, work ethic and a dynamic team environment.
How can employers help create a safer work environment for their healthcare staff?
The following is advised to decrease the risk of injury in the process of carrying out manual handling tasks:
- Reduce the size and/or weight of objects if possible;
- Identify weight and size instructions before moving objects.
- Eliminate bending or reaching by storing objects at waist height;
- Reduce clutter;
- Ensure floor surfaces have good slip resistance;
- Use adjustable height trolleys to move objects;
- Attach lockable casters to wheels or objects;
- Provide step platforms and handrails where necessary;
Tools and strategies that can help reduce employee stress
- Regular staff meetings with management in attendance;
- Stress management and employee wellbeing programs;
- Flexibility and worker participation in the development of work schedules;
- Appropriate training and educational sessions;
- Recognition and action on legitimate complaints; and
- Personal Duress Alarms, particularly for those who are lone workers.
What is a good duress alarm for allied health professionals?
A reliable wearable duress personal alarm for allied health professionals should be a discreet and convenient device that can send a signal for help to an emergency response team. Ideally one that is 24/7 response, quick to activate and has auto answer functionality. During a duress emergency situation, when time is of the essence it is crucial that a call for help is guaranteed to be answered so help can reach you FAST!
How does a Duress alarm work for allied health professionals?
MePACS are a Duress Alarm provider which offers a guaranteed a response from their 24/7 emergency response centre based in Australia.
Introducing a MePACS duress alarm into workplace safety procedures can guarantee that all healthcare staff, and particularly those in lone worker roles, have the required assistance from the 24/7 MePACS response service to de-escalate a distressing situation.
In the event of an accident, violence, assault, fire or emergency, a signal for help can be activated with a quick, sharp press of the duress alarm button.
Alternatively, the in-built fall detection technology will automatically trigger an alert to the MePACS emergency response team to contact you via the 2-way voice to voice system to see what emergency situation you are experiencing.
Our trained and highly skilled response team can then assess the situation, triage the level of help required and take the necessary action such a contacting your colleagues, calling security personnel or 000 emergency services to assist you with the necessary action.
Why should I choose MePACS?
- MePACS work with you to support your OHS policies
- 80% of clients with a MePACS duress alarm feel safer at work.
- Over 90% of MePACS Duress clients say they feel more supported by their organisation by offering them a duress alarm
- A Duress Alarm System can increase staff retention, morale, reduce stress and sick leave.
What are the benefits of a MePACS duress device?
- Raising an alert with quick and simple one button activation
- Two-way voice communication with MePACS via the alarm
- Devices can be shared by a team
- GPS locator – so we can get help to you quickly
- Splash proof
- Lightweight; weighing only 58 grams