Social care worker safety is always of utmost importance, but even more so if you usually work alone. Let’s look at some of the factors to be aware of, and what you can do to keep yourself protected!

What is Lone Working in Social Care?

Lone working simply means working by yourself. This usually applies if you work directly with a one-on-one patient, work social care shifts at night, or provide healthcare support without a direct supervisor on hand.

There are a surprising number of scenarios when this occurs:

Think about:

  • Live-in carers
  • Homeless shelter concierge
  • Home care workers
  • Sleep-in support workers
  • Residential support workers
  • Night healthcare assistant

Working alone in social care also occurs in establishments where you might be working by yourself in a different unit, building or area than your colleagues, like in a care home or nursing home. This means that if you tend to work alone, then the regulations apply to you too, even if you’re on the same site as other people!

What Skills are Required for Lone Working?

All social care workers have excellent interpersonal and communication skills – it’s a key part of the job! Working independently carries some extra skill sets, which can develop over time.

Core skills include:

  • Being accountable and honest
  • Having independence and confidence in your decisions
  • Showing resourcefulness
  • Always being reliable
  • Keeping calm

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The Pros and Cons of Working Alone

Many care workers enjoy lone working. They have a greater sense of responsibility, have discretion over every choice they make (and don’t need to worry about office politics!)

However, there are safety concerns to take into consideration. You need to think about what would happen in a crisis if there isn’t anybody there to help.

Most lone workers experience a great feeling of accomplishment at having the expertise and skills to be able to manage their workload independently. A study by Skills for Care shows us some interesting stats!

  • 78% of healthcare workers surveyed felt working autonomously was positive for their work-life balance
  • 38% of respondents in the care sector had experienced positive mental health benefits
  • 76% of those surveyed agreed that lone working had improved their decision-making skills

What are the Risks to Social Care Worker Safety?

The type of risks you need to think about will vary depending on your job, and the kind of environment you work in.

Some of the most common risks include:

  1. Travelling alone, often during the night
  2. Not having a mobile signal to call for help if needed
  3. Having nobody to help if something goes wrong
  4. Feeling isolated without support to manage emotional and mental wellbeing

All of these risks can be identified through a risk assessment. Whilst nobody likes additional paperwork, trust us this is an essential way to make sure you’re kept safe and supported every day! For example, if you are likely to be working alone at a patient’s home, and don’t have a mobile signal, your employer could instal a landline at the property so you can always ring for help in an emergency.

To make sure everybody gets to vent their frustrations, share any problems and has a sense of team spirit, a coffee morning is a great way to be able to chat, engage with your colleagues and get everything off of your chest!

Don’t forget that if there is anything you aren’t sure of, your employer is there to support you so take the time to raise any concerns so you get the support you need.

How to Protect Lone Working Social Care Staff

Skills for Care publishes several resources that are a treasure trove of information, advice and tools!

For employers, these include job advertisement resources to understand what those essential skills are you need from staff, how to use online healthcare recruitment resources effectively and how to look after your staff long term!

The Guide to Safe Staffing is another excellent read. It explains how to make sure you have the right resources, skills and training to be able to work safely. This not only ensures that care workers know what to do, but that they have the back-up needed to continue to deliver an excellent standard of care.

Studies show that the most important way to protect lone working staff is to analyse the working environment, work out what risks are involved, and put resources in place to make sure that risk is eliminated or managed well. Being able to keep up to speed with what is happening and say in touch is also important, so whether it is an email, a social media page or a face to face natter – it’s good to talk, and means you’re never facing any worries alone! OUTT provide lone working training to all our team, plus discreet and easy contact facilities in case of difficulties.

Registering with OUTT provides experienced social care candidates the opportunity to build an employer review base and take full control of where and when they work. It’s your life, live it! Register with us now!