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How Do Health and Safety Laws Apply to Home Care?

How Do Health and Safety Laws Apply to Home Care?

Homecare is a less controlled and regulated environment for both carers and patients. From personal assistants to care agency staff, there are various forms of home care services available. However, the home environment poses a different set of risks, and employers need to recognise this in their health and safety guidelines.

At home, caregivers face many challenges, including daily travel, frequent patient handling and unsafe home environments. Employers should develop a risk program to detail the practical measures to protect their employees and patients from detrimental risks. 

Under the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) guidelines, there are many risk assessments in place for the different types of care conducted in patients’ homes. These risk assessments should be ‘proportionate’ and ‘balanced’ to enable a common-sense approach to health and safety. However, the details of regulations in place for caregivers and the legalities involved are unclear. 

So, Who Exactly is Subject to the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974)? 

Caregivers, who provide personal care in homes, should be subject to the HSWA. HSWA also covers carers, who work for the NHS, local authorities and employment agencies. Caregivers, who provide complex healthcare like operating life support or palliative care equipment, should be covered by HSWA. Finally, if the delivery of care requires a form of specialist training, like the handling and dealing with challenging behaviour, HSWA should apply. 

What are the Risks Involved with At-Home Care?

The risks involved are dependent on the patient’s needs, the environment care needs to be provided in, the type of care offered and the competence of the carer. The most common caregiver injuries stem from moving a patient or dealing with challenging behaviour. 

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Private businesses should have home care insurance to cover caregiving risks, such as prescription of medicines, meals on wheels, household tasks, and night care. 

The most common risks associated with patient care involve falls, lack of communication regarding the patient’s condition, and providing specialised care. Communication is at the heart of caregiving, and it is essential that each provider documents their impressions of the patient and offers a comprehensive assessment for the team. 

Specialised treatments are more complex and, thus, more prone to challenges. The risk level is higher when administrating less-frequent treatments, like tracheostomy care and ventilator management. These procedures should be practised often so caregivers can maintain their skill competency, reducing the chance of things going wrong. 

There are also risks with hiring employees for homecare services. A thorough background check should be carried out before allowing nay caregivers near patients. It is very common for patients to accuse carers of theft and abuse. Employers should assess each employee’s work history, credentials, license, education, references and identity forms to ensure everything is up to scratch.

Auto-liability also poses a threat to employees as they spend a large amount of time travelling between patient residences and running errands. Employers should ensure that all driving licenses and vehicle record history are up-to-date and clean. 

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