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Care management jobs are more than just caring for residents or patients ……. it is also important to care for yourself, your team and your environment!
2014 was the year that saw us have a big focus about our own Medcall bureau carer’s nurses and support workers health and safety. We wanted to know if there were any worries or potential issues in the workplace that we just didn’t know about. And a few of you told us (thank you, we can’t help if we don’t know).
It goes beyond our responsibilities under the Health and Safety in Employment Act 1992 (HSE Act) – our objective of talking about H&S, is to let you know that we are available to assist you with the management of hazards encountered everyday in our industry, enabling you to deliver on your important role, duties and responsibilities.
Large numbers of caregivers get injured in our industry every year and in NZ we had 3 deaths last year.
Below are a few hazards identified by professionals in Care Management Jobs – but of course there are many more unfortunately! (Partial source… business.govt.nz/worksafe):
- Biological hazards such as exposure to blood-borne diseases. Other infectious conditions may pose a risk to the health care worker. Exposure to biological hazards may occur through exposure to blood or body fluids, sharps (used needles), contaminated laundry or waste, specimens, used medical equipment, or poor home hygiene.
- Behavioural (psychosocial) hazards such as challenging or aggressive behaviour from the intellectually impaired or brain-damaged client. Client behaviour may be hazardous when they are stressed, angry, hostile, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Some have behaviour or mental health conditions that can contribute to threatening or violent behaviour. Workplace stressors from physical or emotional demands, including the effects of shift work, may play a part. Caregiver stress can also be a factor in incidents of client aggression, abuse or violence. Similarly, travel-related hazards such as a vehicle accident breakdown or security issues associated with care management jobs are nursing their clients alone at night can expose these people to risk.
- Manual handling hazards arising from physical labour in the home. Manual handling can place a caregiver at risk of sprain or strain injuries, including back injuries. Many such hazards are worsened by the non-purpose-designed environment that home care take place in. This includes unsafe flooring, surfaces, spatial constraints, or other conditions, furniture or equipment in the home that might result in strains, falls, burns, cuts or other injuries. Electrical, gas or fire hazards resulting from conditions in the home, from biomedical equipment or oxygen use may also be considered as environmental hazards.
- Chemical hazards through leakage, unsafe handling, storage, labelling or mixing of chemicals including domestic cleaners, drug
WHAT SORT OF INCIDENTS/ACCIDENTS ARE REPORTED IN CARE MANAGEMENT JOBS?
Evidence in NZ sees an under-reporting of critical incidents, accidents and injuries. Of those injuries that are reported, musculoskeletal disorders and, in particular, back injuries are the most common (no surprises here we suspect).
Violence to care staff is one of the major occupational health & safety issues in our sector. Exposure to actual or threatened physical harm may arise from interactions with the client, their family or whanau, visitors, or unrelated members of the public who are encountered while the caregiver is performing work, or while travelling to work. Threatening or aggressive behaviour may expose the worker and/or their client to significant risk due to the isolated settings in which our home-based health carers find themselves. Information on the prevention and management of violence is included in these guidelines provided on request – please do just ask.
So, tell us—if you are being asked to do things that might cause harm to you or someone else, or you are feeling a bit out of your depth, or worried about something when you go on shift – we’re here to help you. We will manage this with you and work out together how to avoid and to fix these issues! As you know, we added a health & safety section on our timesheets. If you have a worry on shift / H&S comment, then just tick the box, fill in the back and send us both copies—we will follow up with you – easy!
For the Medcall bureau team – we have adapted our timesheets so you can tick on the bottom if you have any H&S or general issues/worries in the workplace and we will follow up. We want to encourage your voice – so please don’t worry about telling us what is going on. It is so much better we know what you might be exposed to, or what worries you than it to end up in something terrible such as elder abuse/ a fall / injury / death/ distress ….
Remember – Your worries are our worries too—but we are not much help to you unless we know!