With over 57,830 reported cases of verbal or physical abuse action was critically needed. The Government is committed to improving protection and safety of NHS personnel.
It is widely recognised that staff who work in isolation may face greater risks and the ability to call for assistance at times of vulnerability, intimidation, or when personal security is threatened is vital. In 2007, a significant government backed scheme was announced. Fundamental to this was the development of a lone worker alarm service. Reliance Protect innovation experts collaborated closely with the NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) and NHS Counter Fraud Security Management Specialists (NHSCFSMS) to introduce the best technology and support services to facilitate the protection of NHS lone workers. Reliance is recognised for the strength of its total solution from devices to the monitoring, risk assessment and management Centre. Reliance has become the preferred supplier for lone worker protection solutions under a NHS Framework which has been rolled out across NHS Trusts within England and Wales. To date, 232 Trusts have already implemented the scheme, including the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust (SEPT).
With an annual turnover of approximately £300m, SEPT is one of the most successful Foundation Trusts in the country providing integrated care including mental health, learning disability, social care and community services. They provide services across Bedfordshire, Essex and Luton and employ approximately 6,100 people serving a population of over 1.8 million.
Much of their work involves delivering care and support to people in their own homes and community based premises. Prior to the introduction of the lone worker device scheme, SEPT had already identified that the safety and protection of lone workers was an urgent priority.
Reliance initially piloted its Protect Service and the feedback was immediately positive. The actual device used was seen as being particularly user friendly, easy to use, unobtrusive and with the added benefit of being dual purpose, given it also incorporates an identity badge holder.
To date the device has been allocated to over 1,400 individual users within SEPT. These professionals makes regularly visits within the community and typically the support of colleagues is minimal at these times. SEPT also identified a higher level of at-risk users, who had previously experienced threatening behaviour, harassment and even stalking.
Inherent to Reliance Protect’s solution is a familiarisation and training programme undertaken by Reliance’s Protect service team. Users are introduced to the device, with instruction on how to use it, and details of the support services delivered by Monitoring Centre, principally the dynamic assessment of risk and subsequent decision making taken by the experienced and highly trained personnel at the Centre. In these training sessions users quickly realise the benefit of effectively having ‘a team’ behind them at the touch of a button, who gives them complete peace of mind.
Reliance Protect commissioned an independent national survey of users of the Reliance Protect service in the spring, summer and autumn of 2011, resulting in a huge response of 7,630 users including respondents from SEPT. Satisfaction levels were very high particularly for satisfaction with all aspects of the Reliance Monitoring Centre which either met or exceeded the service excellence benchmark.
Users commented that the device leads to increased feelings of security and peace of mind. Naturally, there have been false red alerts, which were all checked by Reliance operatives, but also a number of genuine Alerts where Police response has intervened to de-escalate and manage threatening situations. Here are two anonymous examples as reported by the Reliance Protect Monitoring Centre.
On a visit in the community, a female patient became verbally abusive towards the user and his colleague. The patient also made personal threats towards staff members. A history of mental health issues are linked with the patient. The user managed to calm the situation and no further escalation was required. The case was closed safely.
On another occasion, a red alert was activated as a client became very abusive and violent. The client was holding onto the user's car door and would not let go and assaulted 2 members of the public. Police assistance was requested, and once the police were on site we spoke to the user who confirmed that the police were with him and no further assistance was required from us. The case was closed safely.
One member of staff that has used his device twice to raise a red alert in an emergency situation is Simon Pickering, Care Coordinator, who works in Luton West CMHT. Simon uses his device every time he undertakes a home visit by logging an amber alert. Simons states, “it is reassuring to know that if needed someone else can listen in to the situation and can act appropriately and send assistance. When working in the community a lot of our time is spent in service user homes, working on our own. It is nice to know that we can get help if we need it; although it is not all that often I have had to use the red alert button, it has been good to know that the system is there if I need to use it. It provides an extra sense of security in addition to other lone working procedures we have in place.”