Added on March 15, 2013 by Alicia_Evereklian
Ensuring the safety of a caregiver living in an elderly client's home is one of the most important responsibilities of the client and a foremost priority of our home care agency.
Since most Life Force's caregivers are live-in caregivers for the elderly, the client's home becomes a workplace for the caregiver. These client responsibilities include, but are not limited to, the following.
To ensure that home services are provided in a home that is structurally sound. This may sound like a no-brainer, but we have learned never to assume anything. By structurally sound, we mean, for example, that the caregiver should not have to walk up wooden steps where a step is missing; the caregiver should sleep in an area where the roof doesn't leak; and the caregiver should not be subjected to living in an area of the residence that is undergoing major construction. One way for an agency to assess the safety of a client's home is to develop a Home Safety Checklist. An agency representative can bring this checklist to perform a home inspection at the time of the initial meeting with the client. The Home Safety Checklist may include a list of safety issues in the following areas of the residence: exterior; interior (entry and main living area); kitchen; bedroom; bathroom. For example, for the exterior of the home, the checklist might include the following question: Is the porch light working to adequately light the porch and door?
To provide a smoke-free environment for the caregiver. Caregivers expect to work in a smoke-free environment. If the client smokes, arrangements can be made for them to smoke in one room in the house or on an outside porch.
To ensure that caregivers are free from threatening behavior and/or physical injuries from animals. As much as people adore their pets, it must be recognized that while some pets are very loyal to their owner, they might pose a threat to someone working in the house. If a caregiver is willing to work in a home with a pet, the client or client representative must make appropriate arrangements to ensure the maximum safety of the caregiver.
To ensure that caregivers are free from threats of violence and actual violence. This is an issue that rarely comes up. However, when it does, it must be addressed immediately. For example, an Alzheimer's patient may become agitated with a caregiver because he/she wants the car keys to drive the car. If this agitation escalates into a physical fight, the agency must be notified, the client representative may be called upon to remove both the key and the car, and other appropriate measures may need to be taken.
To ensure that caregivers are free to work in consumers' homes without being subjected to sexual remarks, advances, and/or harassment. While there is a zero-tolerance policy for sexual harassment in our agency offices, the client's home should also be free of sexual harassment from the client or client representative.
Keeping in mind that a client's home is a workplace for a live-in caregiver, the same precautions must be taken to ensure a safe environment for a caregiver in a home as are taken by a traditional office for an office worker. Any problems that arise should be communicated immediately to the agency by the caregiver, client, or client representative.
Bottom Line: While there are rules governing workplace safety in corporate offices, the client's home is a workplace for live-in caregivers. It is the responsibility of the client or client representative to ensure that caregivers work in a comfortable, secure environment. At the same time, it is the responsibility of the agency to ensure that live-in caregivers are working in a safe environment.