Potential Hazards in Health and Social Care Essay
Potential Hazards in Health and Social Care
For this assignment I am going to produce an information booklet for new employees. Within this information booklet I will be explaining potential hazards and the harm that these hazards may arise in health and social care settings. My chosen service user group is the elderly infirm. The working environment in which I will be identifying the hazards is a care home for the elderly. When working with the elderly it is important that you take health and safety into consideration, this is because the elderly are starting to become frail and weak, their movements start to become slower and moving around alone can be a lot harder and may require the support of staff or other aids to get from A to B. This is why it is important that there are no hazards in place which could harm or cause injury to the clients.
A hazard is something around you that could cause harm to you. There are different types of hazards, health hazards are incidents that could lead to someone getting ill. Safety hazards are incidents which can lead to someone getting injured and damage to a property or building. Security hazards are all about intruders whom put service users at harm for example, theft of the building, service users being taken without consent and accessing confidential information without any consent. I am going to be explaining hazards from the bellow areas and explaining how they can be harmful to the service users and staff;
Environmental hazards are things within your environment which could cause harm to clients and staff. Environmental hazards include things such as the temperature of rooms, the pollution, objects and many others.
An environmental hazard that could put clients at risk of harm is poor lighting within a room. This can affect those elderly clients who have poor vision; poor lighting makes it hard to see when moving around this could lead to someone tripping over and falling, it is also frustrating for the client and could cause confusion. This hazard could also put the staff at risk of harm to; for example if a room is too dim and they are guiding a client around the room and because of the poor lighting they are unaware of the table leg and they then trip over it, not only will they hurt themselves put they are also putting the client at risk to as the client may not be stable enough to stand on their own without any help.
It is important that the lighting in all rooms within the care home are set the right way and this is to avoid these unexpected trips and falls, even though they may seem only minor but clients within the home have started to become frail and weak and if they end up falling and tripping over it could really have a big impact on them.
“Slips, trips and falls can have a serious impact on the lives of employees and those being cared for” HSE (04/10/2014) If a client’s room is unclean and is full of clutter on the floor this can be hazardous to the client because if they get up and move around they could end up falling over the clutter and damaging themselves. It is also a major trip hazard for staff as they could be trying to get a client out of bed and because of the mess they end up tripping over it they then are at the risk of injury and could then be off from work because of they are injured. It is important that within the care home no objects are left on the floor, the floors should be clean, they shouldn’t be left wet and if they are wet then there should be a sign there to support the hazard and this is so that the clients are safe to walk around without the risk of them getting hurt.
If the room temperature is set too high or too low this can be hazardous to the clients, as they have become older their immune systems have become weaker which means that they can catch illnesses quickly and it is hard for them to maintain their body temperature. If the temperature in a client’s room is set on low this could then lead to the client getting a cold and a cough. If the temperature in a client’s room is set too high and the client is unaware of it, it can then put the client at risk of becoming dehydrated and may sweat due to their body being over heated. In care homes it is important that each room is fitted with central heating this way the temperature of rooms can be manually set to meet the client’s needs.
In a care home it is important that all equipment is used correctly and safely in order to ensure your clients and staff are not at risk of harm. Hazards from equipment include things such as; unsafe practise, poor maintenance, how tidy the place is and many more.
In the living room of the care home there will be a lot of electrical equipment, it is important that there are no over loaded plug sockets, if there are any over loading plug sockets then it puts both the clients and the staff at risk of being electrocuted if they touch it. When plug sockets are all together and are live they can get heated up too much, if it is touched then the person could be left with burns and bruises. Overloading plug sockets can also cause a fire to the home and this incident could lead to death of clients and service users and this why it is important that safe practise is put into consideration.
All electrical should be checked regularly to see if they are still in good working order and still are safe to use. It is important that within the care home there is a regular maintenance check and all this is recorded. This is because if the equipment is not safe to use but is still being used unware by the clients and it puts them at danger as the equipment could blow a fuse and injure them. For example, the kettle in the kitchen was last checked two months ago, within the two months a problem could have occurred without anyone knowing and when someone uses it, it then causes injury to them. This is why it is important that all electrical’s are checked regularly to ensure safety.
Within the care home where the staff are based there will be computers for staff to complete their work on. If the computer is positioned too high this can cause harm to the member of staff who is using the computer as they may be straining their neck whilst having to keep looking up at the computer screen. If the member of staff is constantly looking into the computer screen this then can strain their vision and may suffer from headaches.
All used equipment should all be put away and nothing should be blocking any areas of the care home, it is mostly important that there is nothing blocking any of the safety exits as this will then put everyone in the building at risk when trying to evacuate if the fire alarm has alerted to do so. Especially for the elder clients as there mobility has become slower and it will take time for them to get out of the building and if for some reason they are blocked they could end up falling over things whilst trying as fast as they can to rush out of the building.
A major trip hazard could be wires left on the floor, for example if a member of staff is using the hoover to clean the clients rooms and have gone from one room to the other whilst leaving the wire on the floor; anyone who is walking past could be at risk of falling and tripping over the wire. Whether it is a member of staff who is supporting a client around the hall or a client who has poor mobility and is trying to get around and does not see the wire then ends up falling over, this then could lead to them having sprained bones and some may suffer from broken bones.
Whilst working in care settings it is important that you take infection control into consideration. Not only for the safety of your service users but for your own safety and health to. If infection control is not controlled it can lead to people getting ill and especially in a care home setting like so where elderly adults are they are at risk of quickly catching illness and infections. This is because as they have become older their body has slowly weakened which means that their immune system isn’t as strong as before and fighting infections can become harder. “Infections acquired in care homes may be serious and, in some cases, life-threatening. These may worsen underlying medical conditions and adversely affect recovery” GOV.UK (2013)
Within the care home the use of injections are used quiet frequently, it is important that after the injection has been used it is disposed straightaway in the right area and this is the member of staff’s responsibility to do so. If this is not done then the service users and staff are at risk of bacteria being spread and also because the injections carry body fluids such as blood, if it is passed on then the body fluids carry infections such as Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C and HIV. Needles are also sharp and can cause injury to the clients and staff users if they are around and not disposed after use.
Personal hygiene should be taken into consideration in the care home, staff should be aware of their personal hygiene. They should be washing their hands the right way frequently after touching different things and when working with different client, or the use of hand gel is used a lot this is so germs and viruses are not spread between staff and clients. If they are spread then they are at the risk of catching illnesses and infections.
This can affect the staff member as then they would have to take time of work for recovery and will affect the client as they will become ill and have to stay in bed and take more medication if needed which may affect their care needs. Staff should also be taking the clients personal hygiene needs into consideration and this is because as they have become older they rely more on the staff to do things for them. Staff should be asking the client whether they would like to take a bath or change clothes, this is so they are not spreading germs around the care home and putting other at risk.
Within the care home many different substances are used which are hazardous to the clients and staff if they are used the wrong way. In the care home there are many types of substances found from cleaning products to medication.
A very hazardous cleaning substance used in the care home is bleach, if bleach is being misused or being used by accident it can cause really bad harm to the person. Bleach is full of chemicals and if it has been drunk can cause burns to the throat and the inside of your stomach is affected. Many elder clients may suffer from dementia and may not understand that it is bleach and may drink it because they think it is a drink. This is why it is important that staff store it in the right place with a lock so that it is only accessed when needed to stop this harmful substance from causing harm to any of the client’s staff.
It is quiet easy within a care home to give the wrong medication out; this is because there are many different clients who all take different types of medication. But if medication is swapped around this can cause harm to the clients, each medication is used for its own reason they may have side effects that strongly affect a client which can make them become ill and other side effects that could harm the clients are things such as drowsiness and nausea. Also it can affect them as they may be unware of the dosage use and could end up taking an overdose.
Clients whom suffer from dementia are at high risk of taking an over dose and this is because they forget about when they are supposed to take their medication and how much medication they are supposed to take. If the wrong medication is took for the wrong illness it can cause other illnesses, such as if someone by accident takes Arthritis tablets they can cause harm to the stomach and stomach ulcers can occur which can effect a person’s eating and health.
Working conditions are about the way you work, such as working hours, how many staff work and the relations between staff. All these conditions also have impacts on the clients within the care home.
As care assistants working hours can be very long, many care assistants do day time shifts where they will be caring for the clients all day long then pass on the information to the next night time shift workers when their shift is over. It is important that carers take their own health and wellbeing into consideration. They can become quiet tiered after long hours which do mean their ability to work will change, it will make them make unexpected mistakes and accidents may happen. This then puts the clients at danger when they are being cared for, they could end up being given the wrong medication or overdoses can be given.
When working in care setting it is important that staff have a good relation with each other, this is because you are caring for other people and looking after venerable adults needs. Staff will need to be able to share information with other staff member revolving the clients, if the right information is not shared then the client’s needs are not going to be met the right way which then puts the client in danger of neglect. For example it is coming to the end of the day shift and notes have been made about a certain client which involves information such as when the client last had medication, when the client was last changed etc., it is then the responsibly of the staff to share and explain the information to the next member of staff because if this is not done so, without knowing the next member of staff could go and give the patient a dose of medication not knowing that they have just had a dose which then again puts the client at risk of a medication overdose and may suffer from harmful side effects.
If there is not enough staff on shift the clients are not being able to get their needs met, this is because the shortage of staff means some clients may not be seen to when they need to because the staff members are busy dealing with other clients. Clients are then at risk of accidents as a client could be needing the toilet but because there is not any staff around to take them they end up wetting their selves and some clients may be at danger of falling if they feel they have to get up their self and they may have poor mobility which means they may end up falling when trying to get up and are at risk of breaking bones and being in pain for a long time.
Working practises is about the way you do your job and how safely you do them in order to not cause harm to your clients. Working practices include the training you have had in certain areas and how you use them skills gained to care for the clients within the home. Some examples of working practices are things such as; Manual Handling Training, working with challenging behaviour and preparing foods.
It is important that all rules and regulations are followed when working in care settings, if you do not follow rules and regulations not only are you putting clients at risk of harm but you are also putting yourself at risk to. Every member of staff should be aware of the fire regulations and should know what to do if a fire occurs. If staff to do follow the set of rules that have been set for fire procedures they are putting their own life’s and clients life’s at risk, in a care home as the clients are older their mobility may be slow so may need help trying to get out of the building safely, staff should ensure the they are getting the clients are getting out safely and nothing is blocking the exits. If rules are not followed on time and the right way then they are at risk of being burnt and getting hurt.
In order to care for clients well; certain training is needed, such as a Manual Handling. Before any staff member can lift a client they have to be trained in Manual Handling. This piece of training makes staff aware of the risks that could occur to both the staff and client if they do not lift clients the right way. If a member of staff goes to lift a heavy patient out of bed without having any training in this they can be putting their self and the client at risk, they could end up dropping the client which will hurt them and may end up getting injured and could also be putting their selves at risk because they could get bad back pains or fracture a bone which means they have to take time of work. So handling people should be taken into consideration at all times in order to keep people out of danger.
All staff need to be trained in preparing food the right way, they need to be aware of the rules and regulations that should be followed in the kitchen. They should be aware of things such of cross contamination and this is about the germs being spread from different things, if cross contamination takes place it puts whoever is going to eat the food at risk of being food poisoned. Within the kitchen area there should be different coloured chopping boards for different foods, these should be used correctly in order to prevent cross contamination from taking place. Staff should be taking personal hygiene into consideration, ladies should have their hair tied up and a hair net should be worn and this is because hair caries all sorts of bacteria and germs and if it goes in the food it can put people at risk. After touching different foods hands should be washed straightaway so infections are not spread.
In order to keep everyone safe in the care home security systems have to be put forward. If security systems are put forward it stops intruders from entering the building. Within care homes at the front is a locked door this stops unexpected visitors from entering the building and stops clients from leaving the building without any consent. Usually there is a signing in and out book so staff are aware if who is in the building and who isn’t. If intruders do enter the building it puts clients at risk of being abducted.
Personal and important information is held within the care home which is all confidential, this shouldn’t be accessed when not needed and should only be accessed by the right people. If information is accessed by an intruder this is wrong and shouldn’t be happening because all clients have a right to confidentiality. If this sort of information is stored on the computer then there should be a high security password that only certain people know otherwise if the information is stored in files then the cabinet should have a lock on it to stop unauthorised people getting to it.
Other security systems should be put into place within the care home such as windows which do not open fully, if a window does open fully then clients are at risk of falling especially if it is upstairs. They will then be at risk of suffering major or minor head injuries.
Before staff are allowed to work in the care setting it is important they carry out a DBS check which checks to see if they have had any previous criminal offenses. If this check is not carried out and staff whom have been previously convictions are working with clients are putting the clients at risk of abuse, or harm as they are vulnerable and may not understand. That is why it is important that appropriate staff are looking after the clients in order to keep all clients safe at all times whilst they are living in the care home.
In order for the above hazards talked about in this booklet not to occur in the care home for the elderly infirm. I think that it is very important that before anything risk assessments should be carried out to look for all the potential hazards which could cause harm to the clients and staff in this environment.
If the hazards are looked at beforehand control measures can be put into place which could stop the hazard from occurring. This way the clients will get to live within a safe environment without being at risk. Staff will be able to work and deliver their care in a safe environment to the clients. Also when the care home is under inspection they will be given a good reputation which mean staff will get to keep their jobs and clients can live securely in the care home.
HSE (2014). Slips and trips in Health and Social Care. (04/10/14) GOV.UK (2014). What are risks? The effects of heat on health. (04/10/14) GOV.UK (2013) Infection Prevention And Control In Care Homes. (04/10/14) NHS Professionals (2010) Standard Infection Control Precautions. (04/10/14) www.dh.gov.uk (04/10/14)
Moonie, N. (2010). BTEC Level 3 national health and social care. London:Edexcel