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Philip Ellison death: Is social care work safe?

by Simeon Brody

The tragic case of the Lancashire social care worker who died after being stabbed yesterday has again raised the question of how safe social care workers are, particularly when it comes to home visits.The case has prompted a discussion about social worker safety on CareSpace.

Here are some of your comments:

Lins: “When is something going to be done to protect workers. In Children Services we are told not to go out alone if there is potential for violence but how many times due to staff shortages have we taken the chance. If it was a police officer would they go alone?”

Anne_m123: “Managing conflict is essential training for any isolated worker. As is appropriate lone wroking policies and procedures. The real danger is when a violent/aggressive incident arises out of the blue.”

preeta: “The people who you see on doubled up visits have usually done or said something to warrant joint visits, it is sometimes impossible to gauge that you are walking into a high risk situation if you have had no warning that a service user is relapsing (for example).”

Brain: “It is long past the time for society to acknowledge that those of us who work in the social care profession have the right to go about our duties without the fear of abuse and assault.”

You can take part in the discussion by logging on to CareSpace.

Only a few months ago, a poll on revealed that a majority of social workers felt they should receive self-defence training.

Earlier Community Care journalist Mike McNabb had argued that it was time for such training to begin, arguing that sometimes it was just not possible to talk your way out of a dangerous situation. At the time I argued against him, suggesting that self-defence training could do more harm than good, if it increased confidence without developing skills to a level where they would be useful in real life.

Meanwhile, Tim Cooke of conflict resolution experts Maybo, suggested that risk assessment was the real answer.

About Simeon Brody

Community Care managing web editor

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One Response to Philip Ellison death: Is social care work safe?

  1. Maurice Mahon 11 April , 2013 at 11:29 pm #

    It is very clear social workers are not safe, particularly those that work alone. It is an absolute tragedy that Philip Ellison met with such a violent death at the hands of someone he had beeb trying to help. My sympathies are with the loved ones he leaves behind.

    The question abounding at present is how many more deaths would be required before substantive action is taken to ensure this sort of death does not occur in the future? We know social workers providing services to mentally ill clients are faced with a very high risk when they carry out their work. Surely the time has come to end the practice of lone workers providing services to potentially very violent service users.