Being invited into someone’s home as well as their personal space is a privilege few Support Workers take for granted.

But preparing meals and assisting with feeding, offering bedside care like bathing, personal hygiene and dressing, and changing medical dressings also brings with it an inherent set of health and safety risks.

Taking active steps that address these problems makes it safer for in-home Support Workers to provide assistance, while also improving the quality of care for their customers.

As paid employees, in-home Support Workers are required to comply with company-mandated safety rules and regulations. However, they are also responsible for their own health and safety while in the customer’s home.

Forewarned is forearmed

The community your customer lives in has the potential to have a big impact on your everyday safety.

It makes sense to do some research on the community your customer lives in before your first appointment. Where possible, look up the best route to their home and learn what you can about the immediate area.

Determine the quickest and safest routes to venues you may be visiting regularly such as allied health centres, supermarkets and medical centres. 

Home visitation behaviour tips

When conducting home visits staff should take note of the following:

  • Observe the premises and take note of any hazards or peculiarities
  • Note difficult or unusual gates, latches, exits, steps, animals, etc.
  • Listen before knocking on doors and take note of any unusual or loud noises, the sound of dogs, and the number and behaviour of people in the house
  • Stand to one side of the door when knocking and wait for the door to be opened
  • Avoid going around to the back of the house or to side laneways, especially if it means you are not visible from the street
  • Identify yourself and your reason for being there 

Arrive refreshed

One of the best things you can do to ensure you are mentally fresh and able to handle any unexpected occurrences during your work day is to ensure you have a good night’s sleep before going to work.

Arriving at your customer’s home fatigued not only means you are more vulnerable but may mean you are more susceptible to compromising your physical or emotional safety.

Personal safety is paramount

Everyone deserves to feel safe at work and your safety is of utmost importance.

Knowing basic first aid is a must, as is wearing appropriate personal protection equipment.

Never start work without a fully charged mobile phone with emergency contact numbers readily available, and make sure you store personal belongings such as handbags, money or electronic devices safely and out of sight.

Addressing these issues with your customer early leaves you free to focus on what’s important—supporting your customer in the manner they deserve.