Lone working training is important for those working in settings alone in health and social care which can be a risky business. But it doesn’t have to stay that way – with the right safety measures in place, lone workers can stay safe and protected from harm.
This quick essentials training guide on the essentials of lone working will provide you with a simple steps you can introduce at your workplace for the benefit of those working alone.
By learning about these practical steps you can take to safeguard employee wellbeing, your organisation can stay ahead of risks associated with working in isolation – ensuring that lone workers remain secure and their health is never compromised.
What is a lone worker?
A lone worker in social care is an individual who works independently or without direct supervision by a supervisor or manager. Lone workers in social care are typically employed within residential settings in which they provide support and services to vulnerable individuals, such as people with learning disabilities, mental health issues, physical needs, and other special needs.
Lone workers’ roles involve providing care, supervision, and support for clients and responding to their needs, which can range from helping them with day-to-day tasks to monitoring any potential risks.
Lone workers typically follow a code of practice that outlines how they should behave, interact with clients, and look after their safety whilst at work. This includes having a written risk assessment in place and understanding where and when it is appropriate to involve help from other professionals.
In order to do their job effectively, lone workers must be able to manage challenging situations calmly and keep their own personal safety in mind at all times.
Why is it important to undertake lone working training courses?
Lone working can present unique challenges and risks for care providers. Without the presence of colleagues or other team members, lone workers may face a greater risk of danger or harm while delivering their services. To ensure that all necessary safety measures are taken, it is important to provide training to all care providers who engage in lone working.
Lone working awareness training should cover topics such as risk identification and assessment processes, safety procedures, communication techniques, and emergency response plans. It also helps to equip carers with knowledge on legal rights and obligations when working alone, so that they are better prepared to handle any potential issues which may arise and recognise when they might happen.
By providing regular lone working training, organisations can help keep lone workers safe and give them the confidence to deliver excellent care in any situation. Keep a copy of your lone working training certificate so that you have evidence of completing the training course. If you complete a lone worker online course, save a copy of the PDF to your phone or computer.
What are the risks of lone working?
Lone workers in social care face several risks, both to their safety and wellbeing. One of the most significant is the risk of physical assault – those providing personal care services such as washing and dressing may be vulnerable to attack in remote or isolated settings. There may also be risks posed by individuals who are difficult to control because of physical or mental illness.
Equally concerning is the prospect of psychological harm, which could include emotional distress caused by dealing with challenging behaviour or high levels of stress. In addition, lone workers are potentially exposed to exploitation or abuse from outside sources and should take steps to safeguard themselves accordingly.
Lone workers are less likely to have access to support and help in an emergency, meaning that they may struggle to access the help that they need if something were to go wrong. This could put them in a vulnerable position and there is always the possibility of occupational fatigue setting in from overwork or poor rest periods. It is therefore essential for employers to do all they can to ensure their lone workers are adequately supported and equipped with all the safety precautions.
Lone worker safety is really important, so consider all the potential risks depending on the care setting and who they are working with.
What are the laws around lone working in the UK?
The Health and Safety at Work Act in the UK imposes a general requirement on employers to ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of employees. This means that anyone working alone must be adequately supported, supervised and given appropriate training to allow them to work safely.
Specifically, for social care workers, The Care Quality Commission’s Code of Practice requires service providers to assess any risks associated with lone working and make sure they have policies, systems and processes in place. These should include assessing the level of risk posed to each staff member, providing suitable personal protective equipment and ensuring that workers are aware of their responsibilities to report any incidents or hazards.
The code stipulates that lone workers must receive adequate support, including easily accessible methods of communication such as phones or radios. There also must be clear procedures for reporting any hazards or incidents, and workers should know how to call for help if they find themselves in an emergency. Employers should carry out regular reviews of their lone working policies and be able to show that they are actively managing any risks posed by lone working.
What are the responsibilities of the lone worker?
As a lone worker in social care, it is your responsibility to ensure that any individual or group of individuals you may work with are provided with an excellent standard of care. This includes providing emotional and physical support, following safety procedures, respecting the rights of those in your care, and acting under relevant health and safety legislation.
It is also important for lone workers to maintain accurate records of any activities undertaken, in order to have detailed evidence should any issues arise. It is essential to always remain vigilant when working with vulnerable individuals, as well as being aware of the changing needs and circumstances of those receiving care. It is also important to stay up-to-date with any changes to relevant laws or regulations, as these can affect how care is provided.
For lone workers in social care, there must be consistent communication between staff members and supervisors. Proper communication will keep staff appraised of any health and safety issues, updated information about the individuals under their supervision, as well as any other relevant developments. Communication is key to preventing any potential problems from arising and responding quickly in the event of any unexpected scenarios.
How should I manage risk and safety when lone working?
A risk assessment for lone workers in social care is evaluating identified hazards and potential threats to ensure the safety of those working alone.
It involves an evaluation of the risks involved in their working environment and the steps necessary to mitigate those risks, such as providing physical protection or installing CCTV cameras. Lone workers should also be provided with training on how to identify and manage potential hazards, such as fire risks, vulnerable adults, aggressive clients, violent bystanders, or even natural disasters.
The risk assessment should also include a review of staffing ratios, number of personnel present, equipment and supplies available, as well as communication protocols to contact supervisors in case of emergency. Finally, the assessment should involve periodic training sessions and refreshers to help staff stay abreast of ever-changing safety standards.
What should a lone working policy include?
Lone working policies ensure the safety and protection of staff who work away from the office or ‘lonely’. The policy should outline support mechanisms and stipulate clear processes for ensuring health, safety and welfare is maintained within any organisation when lone workers are deployed.
It should begin by outlining the purpose and legal context for why such a policy is needed. It should then explain expectations for behaviour, as well as procedures to follow when lone working may occur. This should include how long employees will be lone working, and what type of contact should be made while they are working. It should detail the provision of health and safety equipment, and measures to ensure first aid is available in an emergency.
The lone working policy should also cover the company’s responsibilities towards the employee, such as providing training on lone working, regular risk assessment and completion of accident reports. Finally, the policy should provide guidance on investigations into incidents involving lone workers, detailing any processes that will be undertaken.
What are the advantages of lone working in a care setting?
Working alone in social care has several distinct advantages, including increased autonomy and flexibility in the workplace. For example, lone workers are less restricted by team schedules or hierarchies, and can be more creative and efficient in deciding how to approach their jobs.
Lone working gives carers the opportunity to build deeper relationships with those they support, as the lack of additional staff allows for a greater focus on individual needs. Single-worker roles are often better suited for targeting specific areas of need, such as mediation between individuals or advocacy for vulnerable members of society.
Lone workers enjoy a greater sense of self-fulfilment, as they have sole responsibility for their own work and can develop an understanding of their role, which is meaningful to them.
What else can help someone safe when lone working?
Lone workers in social care have a unique set of safety requirements that need to be met. With the help of apps and devices, we can ensure these needs are considered.
One of the most important tools is a lone worker personal alarm system. These systems allow employees to raise an immediate alert if they feel unsafe during a call or visit. The alerts are sent to a designated contact who can assess the situation and take action.
Mobile working apps can also be invaluable in keeping lone workers safe. Many of these apps are designed to provide location tracking services, ensuring that management always knows where their staff are located. Other features such as secure messaging, task lists, and incident management systems can give lone workers peace of mind that any issues will be communicated quickly and accurately.
Wearable technology such as body cameras, smartwatches, and contactless cards can provide an additional layer of protection for lone workers. By using these tools, organisations can ensure that workers are better equipped to react quickly in confrontational situations.