Safety Training Exercise Prepares, Protects Home Healthcare Employees

August 30, 2017

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During a recent safety training session, Dominick Violante, Public Safety Training & Education Resource coordinator, Hartford Hospital, left, demonstrates how to escape a hold to Amy Collins, RN, Hartford HealthCare at Home. 

NEWINGTON – A young home health aide with Hartford HealthCare at Home was undeterred when a man dressed in black menacingly grabbed her by the wrists. With one deft movement, she freed herself from his hold, slammed her palm into his nose and escaped.

Thankfully it was not a real-life situation but occurred during a safety training exercise on May 30 led by Dominick Violante, Public Safety Training & Education Resource Coordinator, Hartford Hospital.

Among the 15 employees attending was Holly Bessoni-Lutz, RN, MSN, COS-C, director of Hartford HealthCare at Home Hospice and Palliative Care. “Some of our staff felt unsafe when visiting homes in certain areas or during on-call hours,” she said. “We thought it was important to give our employees the skills to be safe while they care for their clients.”

Each year, several hundred home care employees across the country are the target of a physical attack in doing their job. In extreme cases, several have even died due to violence from a client’s angry family member.

The two-hour safety training was designed to teach home care employees simple techniques that can have a big effect in thwarting a physical attack. “There have been a few incidents,” noted Laurie St. John, RN, MSN, interim vice president, Hartford HealthCare At Home Community Network Homecare and Hospice. “Our staff had safety concerns and we listened.”

During the class, Violante provided personal safety tips such as paying attention to the surroundings, letting someone know where they are going, parking close to the client’s residence, avoiding confrontation with a person or dog, and following instinctive feelings. The group then gathered on a padded area to practice techniques that can be used in almost every scenario whether attacked from the front or behind. “You have to do these moves almost instinctively,” he said. “When being choked from the front or rear, you only have three to four seconds before becoming incapacitated.”

Stacey Brites, LPN, visiting nurse with the Hartford HealthCare at Home Watertown office, said afterward that all home healthcare workers could benefit from the training. “I definitely feel more prepared and trained to observe my surroundings and act if needed,” she said. “I hope it is something that becomes part of orientation and mandatory for all staff.”

Hartford HealthCare at Home will continue to offer safety training classes for its employees. For more information, contact Bessoni-Lutz at 860.249.4862 or email Holly.BessoniLutz@hhchealth.org.

Hartford HealthCare at Home