Social workers must put their safety first and their clients second in situations where they feel at risk, Community Care Live heard yesterday.
Ray Braithwaite, a trainer in managing aggression and stress at work, also urged practitioners to stand up to their employers if they were being put in unsafe situations at work, in a session on working with dangerous clients.
He said: “The relatives of the last three social care staff who have died have said they put their clients first and personal safety second.”
Must learn from past
“We have got to learn from the past. You have got to say to your organisation I am valuable, I am worth something, protect me.”
Braithwaite said that employers had to allow social workers to attend some situations in pairs and acknowledge that their staff were their biggest asset.
He added that social care staff often failed to report verbal abuse and low-level physical abuse and that all incidents had to be recorded in order to bring about change.
“Some of us don’t report being bitten, some of us don’t report being scratched and some of us don’t report being spat at. Don’t leave it at an anecdotal level we must report and record all of this.”
Philip Ellison death
His comments follow the fatal stabbing last month of Lancashire community support worker Philip Ellison, which prompted renewed concerns about the safety of social care staff at work.
Community Care contacted members of an expert taskforce set up by government which produced an action plan on improving workplace safety in 2001, a number of whom felt the implementation of their recommendations had “fizzled out”.
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