Every day, thousands of home health care workers are at risk of injury due to accidents or violence. Nurses need to take care of themselves if they are to perform their jobs well and take care of others. Knowing what the common workplace hazards are and how to prevent them is the first step toward a healthy and safe career in home health care.
Follow these four safety tips to protect yourself on the job:
1. Know your limits
Over half of all injuries that lead to days away from work are the result of overexertion, reported the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Getting overtired or pushing yourself too hard can lead to clouded thinking and increase the likelihood of an accident.
Sprains and strains account for the majority of injuries which cause days away from work. Knowing your physical limits and understanding when it's time to take a break will help you avoid these types of injuries. Likewise, stretching and exercising in your free time may help to prevent serious strains on the job.
2. Ask for help, when you can
When you're on the job, it's best to work in pairs if possible. Using the buddy-system approach will not only decrease the likelihood of a violent encounter with a patient but also help in situations where you need assistance moving a patient around the home. Asking for help in these instances can prevent strains and sprains and keep you from overexerting yourself.
3. Learn to recognize warning signs
Hospitals are often filled with surprises, but home health care environments are especially unpredictable. You may face violent behavior from patients, their family members and other individuals in the neighborhood.
The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommended checking out the surroundings before exiting your vehicle and entering the home. Once inside, always trust your judgment. If you feel threatened at all, find a way to leave the premises and inform your supervisor about the situation.
4. Focus on time management
Home health care can be a stressful job. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended managing your time carefully so that you have rest periods throughout the day.
Wake up early enough to get a good breakfast and keep yourself fed and energized throughout the day. Skipping meals can quickly lead to exhaustion and confused thinking. Outside of work, develop supportive relationships that allow you to blow off some steam and find emotional support.
For more tips on dealing with emotional fatigue, check out this article.
Home health care can be an extremely satisfying career. Caring for yourself is just as important as caring for others. In doing so, you'll be a more effective worker and a happier person.