Recent figures from the Royal College of Nurses show that one in three nurses have experienced some form of harassment or assault from their patients in the last twelve months.
To tackle this problem, Community and Night Nurses across Hounslow are involved in a new scheme that provides them with a reliable means of calling for help whilst travelling between appointments or visiting patients.
Nurses use a normal mobile phone linked to a computer system to input their destination and route details, so that in the event of an incident occurring the system is able to automatically call for back up and provide the location details of the affected member of staff.
Hounslow Primary Care Trust (PCT) is one of the first NHS trusts to pilot the new LookOut call service from Cambridge-based C3 Ltd. The service is designed to provide additional protection for healthcare professionals as
part of an integrated Lone Worker solution.
Hounslow nurses use their mobile phones to update a computer system with their status (e.g. starting a 60 minute patient visit) and leave a spoken message with their location details. The computer system uses these updates to initiate countdown timers for each nurse. If nurses then fail to send another update within the time stated, countdown timers reach zero. At zero, the LookOut call computer will check for false alarms by sending text messages. If nurses do not respond to these messages, team leaders are contacted. If a team leader cannot be contacted, then a manager, or the director-on-call are contacted, and eventually the police are made aware of the situation.
The phone can also be used by nurses in emergency situations. By pressing a single button, the phone automatically speed dials through to the police.
Liz Lewis, Clinical Manager for Hounslow Night Nursing Service is very positive about the impact of the Look Out call service. "In the past, our
nurses have felt unsafe when traveling at night, so I've encouraged them to try out the scheme" she says.
Hounslow's Night Nurses work from 7pm through to 6am. With small teams and unsociable hours the staff can be vulnerable when visiting patients. There are often times, for example, when nurses don't know the areas they are visiting, as patients can be referred directly through NHS Direct. Nurses have witnessed cars being vandalised and also experienced their own cars being broken into.
"Our first duty is to the patients," says Liz Lewis "but staff safety is also of paramount importance. This initiative shows a great deal of commitment from Hounslow PCT, and it makes us feel safer to know that our personal security is a priority."
* Summary of 2000/ 2001 Survey of reported violent or abusive behavior incidents, accidents and staff sickness absence in NHS trust and health
authorities in England Source: Dept. of Health 2002
C3 develops and supplies computer-based communications platforms and applications for corporates, service providers and the public sector. Since 1990 the company has installed over 250,000 lines of communications technology worldwide for: prepaid telephony, emergency call out, IVR, speech recognition, call/contact centre, virtual call centre, voicemail, and automated solutions.
For further enquiries please contact:
Susan Hunt, C3, Tel: +44 (0) 1223 427700 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Gray, Gray Associates Ltd. Tel: +44 (0) 20 8744 9168 email: email@example.com
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