How Elara Caring and VHS Health keep staff safe at home
Health care workers working in emergency care settings are often in the line of fire when it comes to workplace violence. It’s well documented.
However, despite the difference in conditions of care, their home care colleagues are not immune from the same dangers.
“[Workplace violence in the home] very understated — and always has been,” Andrea Devoti, executive vice president of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice Care (NAHC), told Home Health Care News.
At least ISP leaders are aware of this problem.
That’s why they’re taking the initiative — and putting in place processes, programs and training — to keep caregivers and doctors safe at home.
For home care workers, there are many factors that differentiate their care settings and everything that comes with it.
“In a person’s house, the person is not only more comfortable because he is in his own space, but you are exposed to all the other things that revolve around his life, whether it’s the people who live in the house, members of the extended family. , pets or neighbors,” Devoti said. “You really see the real person, which can be very positive when you’re caring for someone… but it can also be more threatening for a healthcare professional because people let their guard down in their personal space.”
Devoti noted that people working in both the personal care and home healthcare industries face significant workplace violence.
VNS Health uses several security measures
VNS Health has taken a number of measures to ensure physician safety, including having a cross-functional team dedicated to safety and awareness.
“The team is made up of people who work in our security organization, our facilities organization, and people who work in the human resources department,” Tracey Dodd, executive vice president and director of human resources at VNS Health, told HHCN. “They meet on a very regular basis to make sure all of our policies, processes and practices are kept up to date. AND [to make sure] that we constantly listen to the opinions of our employees, collect feedback from them and understand what their experience is like so that we can guarantee their support.”
VNS Health, based in New York City, is a full-service home care organization. The company treats more than 40,000 patients daily in five New York City boroughs with more than 10,000 employees.
One way the company supports its doctors is through a mobile app called AlertMedia. The application provides security monitoring, activation of the emergency alert system, as well as panic notification to local authorities.
VNS Health also partners with local anti-violence organizations to offer self-defense courses as well as safety awareness courses focusing on empowerment, protection, commuting and transportation.
The company offers online training to its doctors through Care Connect.
“We help them understand how to identify and report unsafe environments and share emergency alert procedures with them,” Dodd said.
In addition, VNS Health provides clinicians with access to escort services.
“If they don’t feel safe, they can call and have someone escort them to the patient’s building, home, or apartment, which our clinicians greatly appreciate,” Dodd said.
When violence occurs, VNS Health has made sure that the organization is ready to offer its medical assistance.
“We have social workers and psychologists who are part of our organization,” Dodd said. “We rally around people who may have experienced a problem, whether at a patient’s home or while commuting. We offer consulting services, we offer free time. We have an employee assistance program where they can access additional resources.”
Elara Caring puts safety in the workplace at the forefront
For Elara Caring, strengthening the company’s risk management and safety programs has been a key focus in 2023.
“At the center of these efforts is our workplace violence prevention strategy,” Betta Swanson, chief compliance and privacy officer at Elara Caring, told HHCN.
Part of that effort was the recruitment of key employees. Earlier this year, Chris Corrigan joined Elara Caring as General Counsel.
“He has a lot of experience in risk and safety and violence prevention in the workplace,” Swanson said. “As an organization, we have a zero tolerance policy for violence in the workplace.”
The company also has a program to prevent workplace violence, the main component of which is training.
“They are trained in assessing the work environment from a safety perspective, which includes learning how to control known hazards, how to anticipate and recognize new hazards, how to assess the risks they pose, identifying warning signs of possible violence, such as an aggressive body. language, verbal abuse or threats,” Swanson said. “We practice verbal de-escalation techniques and then, as a last resort, run away and get out if necessary.”
Since training is an important part of ensuring the safety of Elara Caring personnel, the company is focused on figuring out the most effective ways or methods to provide such training.
This involves using a combination of face-to-face training and virtual training – the latter through the Elara Caring Learning Management System. The company also has an internal application where it publishes news, information and videos.
Elara Caring has also established safety committees where caregivers and physicians discuss incidents that have occurred, factors that contributed to the incident, and strategies to prevent similar incidents in the future.
“These committees come together and report to an enterprise risk management committee, which analyzes trends in workplace violence incidents as well as analyzes potential blunders to determine what additional training or support we can provide,” Swanson said.
Another thing the company is working on is the process of evaluating the effectiveness of its prevention policies and practices.
“We want to make sure we measure baseline and then measure after these interventions are applied,” Swanson said.
In terms of responding to violence, Elara Caring has an internal alert system.
“We have a good internal investigation reporting and feedback loop in place to ensure that an incident is properly investigated and resolved and that affected individuals receive full support immediately,” Swanson said.
Ultimately, service providers must work with caregivers and clinicians when it comes to how to keep them safe.
“These are boots on the ground,” Swanson said. “It’s them who see it and fight it day in and day out.”
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