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Working safely

Female social care worker helping older man get out of his wheelchair

Both the social care worker and their employer have a responsibility to work safely. A social care worker might need to carry out tasks that involve:

  • Using a hoist to move a person
  • Using clearing materials
  • Preparing, serving and storing food
  • Changing and disposing of incontinence pads or waste matter
  • Administering medication
  • Accompanying people to appointments or activities.

The employer must provide training on safe practice and provide personal protective equipment (PPE) to minimise the risk of infection spreading.

Work practice follows a written risk assessment that will have been put in place by a senior care worker. It might, for example, state that two people are needed to ensure the safety of an individual when moving them using a hoist, or taking them out shopping. Assessing risk, however is a dynamic process and as a social care worker you would need to be aware of anything that might affect an activity.

Sometimes, for example, the written risk assessment might say that the individual needs a walking aid to go outside, but your judgement on that particular day might be that they are not feeling well and are rather unsteady, so you decide that they might be safer in a wheelchair. In consultation with the individual, you can decide to overrule the written risk assessment on that day because of the circumstances.

It can be difficult in a person’s own home to follow safe practice but the employer must carry out risk assessments and put in place a risk management plan to minimise the chances of injury or harm to either the care worker or the individual. Again, your own judgement is important in deciding what is safe at the time. If it helps, go back to the Rights and Risks activity to help clarify how the balance between safety and risk taking can be achieved.

Remember that if you change or adapt a risk assessment, you need to record your decision with reasons why you have changed it, and report your views to a senior member of staff.

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