Health and safety is very important in health and social care. Risk Assessments are carried out and updated regularly to try and prevent risks and hazards, Risks are the chance that something may happen and lead to a hazard, hazards are something that can cause harm, for example someone tripping over a step and ending up in hospital. In this report I am going to use a respite care homes for children with disabilities to give examples of risks and hazards and ways to prevent them.
Respite care homes for children with disabilities are homes which can give overnight care so that families or carers can have a break or get professional help, some children live in the homes this is known as long term respite care and some only spend a couple of days at the home.
Health hazards are things that could lead to an illness, in the chosen setting there are a variety of health hazards, Examples of this would be the risk of a child or service user getting hold of cleaning materials and not understand how dangerous they are, this could cause serious harm and could be fatal if consumed or mixed with other chemicals as cleaning products are toxic, to prevent this from turning into a hazard cleaning products and chemicals should be kept locked cupboards.
Another health hazard could be the spread of illness as there would be a wide range of people entering and leaving the setting, illness can also be spread though not cleaning hands correctly this can reduced by asking people and staff to wash hands and be hygienic by cleaning surfaces and equipment after use, this is also important because some the children in the home may be more at risk of illness as their immune system may not be as strong.
In the care setting many of the service users may need medication, a hazard with this may be a member of staff who isn’t experienced or doesn’t know about the medication and could administer the medication wrong, to prevent this from happening all staff could be taught about the medication and go on a course where they learn about the different requirements of children or there could be more experienced staff in charge of medication so that a child isn’t administered the wrong medication or amount of medication.
Safety hazards are the chance of injury and damage to equipment for example broken play equipment. There are a wide range of safety risks in this setting; firstly there is the chance of tripping over toys and play equipment this can be reduced by putting equipment away after use.
Another example of a safety hazard in this area of health and social care is the children and staff are at risk of getting harmed as there would be a number of children coming to the home with difficult and complex learning difficulties or disabilities and could turn violent or have a fit, to minimize this risk staff should be trained properly to handle difficult behaviour and emergency and know what to do in case of this. There should also be procedures that are in place to protect the children and staff.
A final key safety Hazard could be lifting children either in and out of wheel chairs or beds, lifting manually can put both service user and staff at risk, the member of staff could end up with an injury though not lifting correctly or being in an awkward position and the service user could end up being dropped or harmed in thought this, there should be a procedure in place and staff you plan to have a lift or hoist in a situation where they aren’t available members of staff who have training or know how to lift correctly should be able to do the lifting.
Security hazards are situations like theft, intruders or service users leavening without consent. In this setting because most of the service users have a disability or special needs, sometimes they can wonder and become lost, so to prevent this the setting must be secure and things like making sure exits to roads must be locked or monitored.
There can be sensitive and confidential information kept on children and their families using the service so it’s extremely important things such as paper work and information on children need to be kept in a secure file or computer system, this can be done by using secure technology so that files on a computer are kept privet and any paper work should be kept locked in a filing cabinet or something similar, the data protection act 1998 ensures that information shouldn’t be kept any longer than needed it also ensures that information should not be passed on to anyone without permission.
The area in a children’s home also needs to be secure to avoid children getting abducted or wondering/running away, this can be prevented by securing the area though gates and fences and a door alarm so that people have to be ‘Buzzed’ in and this will prevent anyone from walking in and out of the building. There could also be CCTV to monitor who comes in and out of the building. As many of the service users are children who are vulnerable, all staff should complete an enhanced CRB check this is to protect service users and make sure all staff are suitable for the environment and won’t be a danger to the service users.
The environment for the setting is like a home, this can be positive for the children because it creates a welcoming and friendly feeling however, this creates hazards such as things being left around e.g. cleaning products.
In this environment there is a risk of stress and/or anxiety if there is overcrowding, many of the service users are venerable and if the home had a fairly big number of people in it then the service users can become stressed or aggressive and pose a risk for their safety and the safety of those around them. To try and prevent this there should be a set number of service users that can be at the respite care at one time.
Another risk is the chance of theft this can be a huge problem in the setting because some of the service users may not understand what they have done that’s wrong. Theft can cause distress to service users and should be dealt with seriously; an example of this situation could be where a child takes something that belongs to another child but doesn’t understand.
Another risk is when its winter and outside there’s ice and snow, this would make it slippery and could cause a number of problems such as getting wheel chairs in and out of the home, staff attending work, access for visitors. This can be dealt with by organising for the snow to be cleared or grit to be put down so the ice melts.
Staff working in this area is at risk of stress, depression and emotional problems this is due to the challenging behaviour and situations of service users, to try and minimize the risk to staff regular breaks should be taken along with holiday also stress can be caused by staff shortages, this can be dealt with by requesting help from other agencies.
The manger of the care home has a duty to staff and service users and if a member of staff is suspect of being a risk due to the pressure of the work then the member of staff has to be suspended or put on sick leave. If a member of staff is suspended an investigation has to be carried out and a report written. The staffs are at risk of getting harmed by service users this is because the service users may not understand what they are doing
Another example of hazards that could arise under working conditions could be a gas leak or power cut in the case of a gas leak and the gas is poisonous like carbon monoxide then the building should be evacuated and a professional called this is because it could cause illness or death. In the case of a power cut there should be torches available or back up power if there are service users with dependency of medical equipment that requires electricity.
If the working conditions were poor for example there’s poor lighting, cramped conditions, poor equipment, poor security on computers or insufficient supplies. This would pose a massive hazard as it can have an effect on the standard members of staff work at due to insufficient equipment, it also puts service users at risk of being harmed from poor equipment, the poor lighting could have a huge effect on members of staff or service users with poor eye sight.
Abuse and Harm
There are a number of ways visitors, service users and staff could be harmed or abused. One of these ways could be that a member of staff or service user is hurt by falling down the stairs or tripping over something for example a toy or books. This is prevented by things being put away and not left on the floor and a stair rail or banister put up. Another way that people could become harmed in the care setting is though rough play e.g. where two service users are playing a game like football, they could get over excited and someone could end up becoming hurt to prevent this staff could monitor play and ensure that there is a minimum risk of this happening.
A way that service users can be abused is by staff, visitors or care givers this could be emotionally, physically or sexually. This can be prevented by an enhanced criminal record check on all members of staff they come into contact with service users also reports and training should be under taken by staff to watch for warning signs of abuse. Staff can be at risk of abuse from other staff members and service users or parents/carers. Service users can be abusive as many will have learning difficulties or a disability and may not understand what they are doing, An example of this can be where a service user is being physically abused by a member of staff, in the situation the service user has sever autism and doesn’t understand what the member of staff is doing that is wrong, to prevent this members of staff should have sufficient training about warning sign and then educate the service users about what’s inappropriate and appropriate.
Bullying would also come under abuse and harm, because work place bullying is common and this can be a hazard because it’s not a professional environment and the victim can become emotionally unstable posing a risk to victim and service user. In a situation where a member of staff is discriminating against some because of their ethnicity then there would usually be a disciplinary action.
Equipment can be hazard because of four main reasons, firstly the equipment may cause a health hazard due to either not being cleaned properly which can cause illness or infection, and also things like play equipment cans a hazard if it’s not maintained properly or if a safety mat is not put down this is because children could fall off the play equipment and get harmed. An example of this is could be where a service user falls off play equipment and is injured due to a safety mat not being placed around the equipment, to prevent this from happening a member of staff should of placed a mat down and supervised while service users where using the equipment.
Secondly, a computer holding personal information could be a security risk and if any information sensitive or not sensitive is shared with people that it isn’t suppose to be shared with. This poses a risk because it could cause emotion upset and can be dangerous to the person the information is about because there could be a risk of a child being abducted from the premises if a person knows all the details and information about the child.
Thirdly the equipment could be a safety hazard by not working properly or someone could be doing administration work on a computer and get RSI (repetitive strain injury) by typing too much for a long period of time, they could also get back and eye strain is they’ve spent too long on the computer. An example of this would be where a member of staff is doing administration work and has spent a number of hours sitting in the same position and typing case notes up, soon the staff member suffers from back strain and RSI and needs to be on sick leave while their back recovers, this causes problems for the staff member and care home, so to prevent this regular breaks should be allowed and there could be a mixture of admin and practical work.
Finally, a safety hazard could be where there’s a lift in the respite care home for children in wheel chairs, this because there’s a risk of service users getting stuck in the lift or fingers caught when the doors open and close to prevent this from happening a member of staff could assist service users in lift especially is the service user is hearing or sight impaired or there is also lifts that can be built so that a voice is activated and says ‘door closing’ or opening and what floor the lift stops on this will allow service users independence and safety.
Ways Hazards are prevented
A number of legislations have been brought in to help reduce the chance of hazards a main law is the health and safety at work act, which is put in place to reduce accident rates in the work place. The health and safety at work act have requirements for all employers to have a health and safety policy, record incidents and accidents and have information on equipment to ensure that it’s safe.
Care homes have a manger who has the reasonability to check all hazards are recorded and have a procedure or the risk of the hazard happening is at an absolute minimum. The care home manager has also got the responsibility to ensure all staff know the health and safety procedures and know what to do in case of an emergency. Extra care should be given to those with impaired hearing and sight to avoid risks and hazards.