Explain potential hazards and harm that they may arise from each in a health and social care setting (P1) There are lots of hazards that may occur in health and social care settings, these hazards pose risks of harm that effect specific service user groups. The essay is based on a private residential care home for the elderly with dementia, these people have mobility issues and other health issues associated with old age, e.g. high blood pressure and diabetes. There are 20 residents with 8 permanent members of staff including a nurse and various care workers.
Hazards in the physical environment
The physical environment includes everything that is around you e.g. people, buildings, pets, objects, temperature and air; all of which have a dramatic influence on people’s well-being. There is a governmental National Minimum Standards which people must maintain for a healthy physical environment. These pose risks for the elderly residents due to their limitations in vision and with movement. The hazard is the obstacle of boxes left in the narrow hallways. This risk is that the elderly people will trip over the boxes and cause injuries to themselves, this is caused by their limitations of movement and vision thus them not seeing the obstacle or can’t move to avoid them so they are likely to fall over them. (http://ageing.oxfordjournals.org/content/26/3/195.full.pdf)
Hazards from equipment
The hazards from equipment are any equipment you use or come in contact with in the work place; these could pose a hazardous risk. This is a hazard in the residential care home due to the residents needing regular medical tests to see if their medication is working and if not then a review of the medication is needed to assess what needed to be done to help the residents. If the medical equipment such as a sphygmomanometer gives false readings due to it been broken then it can cause patients to be misdiagnosed that there medication is needed at the dosage. This misdiagnoses could potently cause injury to the residents e.g. if a person has high blood pressure but the equipment gives a low reading then long term damage can happen to blood vessels such as ones in the kidneys. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2563463/)
Hazards from infection
Serious infections mainly only pose risks if procedures are correctly followed, if they are not followed then it causes unnecessary hazards to yourself and others. This is a potential life threatening hazard in the elderly residential care home especially for those who are immune compromised, which elderly people are. Diseases such as MRSA can spread rapidly around the care home if correct procedures in cleaning are not followed, this infection has been linked to over 1,000 deaths a year. These hazards of infection come from things such as incontinence pads not been disposed of, a lack of hygiene levels been maintained etc. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12652388)
Hazardous waste is any human waste and potently infected equipment, this waste needs to be disposed of correctly. Syringes and needles are a serious hazard which can cause needle-stick injuries; this can happen if these objects are not disposed of correctly. They should be disposed of in sharps boxes which are then incinerated; if not there is a potential risk of the spread of, HIV and Hepatitis B virus. Within the residential care home it is a large risk as if procedures are not followed for the residents, blood carried infection such as hepatitis B can be spread to other residents. This can happen by them having yearly flu vaccinations, if the needles are not changed for each resident then these infections are spread. Also soiled bedding and incontinence pads are a hazardous waste which should either be washed at a high temperature to kill the bacteria or be disposed of and incinerated, this will prevent diseases and infections spreading thus becoming a hazard. (http://www.epa.gov/superfund/students/clas_act/haz-ed/ff_01.htm)
There are many hazardous substances in health and social care settings, most are only potential risks if correct procedures are not followed. This is a hazard particularly in care home as the residents can become disorientated and may ingest the chemical cleaning products without realising how hazardous it can be. By ingesting the chemical cleaning products it could kill or seriously damage the residents internally. To prevent this happening, all hazardous substances should be stored in either a lockable cabinet so residents cannot ingest them. Also medicines are a hazardous substance which if they are not stored in a lockable medicine cabinet can lead to residents ingesting them which can kill them. (http://www.rospa.com/occupationalsafety/training/riskassessment/control-of-substances-hazardous-to-health.aspx)
Hazardous working conditions
Working conditions are all aspects of where you are during your work. This includes things such as the staffing levels, hours of work and staff relations. There are a lot of regulations in the health and social care sector which helps maintain a standard of care. However there is a higher than normal levels of staff turnover with much staff shortages this causes the staff to have to rush over there work thus procedures are not always followed correctly leading to an increase in the risk of accidents and injuries. Also many staff members may have to work double shifts or long shifts which may lead to staff neglecting residents as been over tired means staff will forget doing things which is necessary. Within the care homes for the elderly this is a very dangerous hazard, due to their possible limitation in movement, it can cause the service users to come to harmed due to neglect caused by a lack of supervision by staff members as they are over worked.
Hazardous security systems
Security systems are put in place to protect the safety of staff and the service users. All social, health, yearly years care and residential homes have security system procedures in place to protect people. Within the residential care home there are lots of confidential personal medical records that have to be kept secure. If they are not kept secure then their bank details could be used and their money stolen without them knowing, this could lead to their family not been able to afford to pay for the care home and the person losing their place in the home. Also the residents have dementia so there is a security hazard as they may wonder off the premises and get injured. To prevent this happening all doors and windows must be locked. Doors can have electronic locks so only authorised people can enter or leave the home, yet if there’s a fire or emergency the doors unlock to allow residents and staff to leave easily
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