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We Are Beams (known as Beams) is a UK charity for supporting disabled children, young people and their families in Kent. As part of their Direct Payment Support Service, Beams are commissioned by local government to help families use funding provided to meet their needs.
The service is provided by lone workers who visit clients at their homes to offer support. Travelling by country roads and working behind closed doors, Direct Payment Case Workers may be exposed to environmental and anti-social behaviour risks.
Karen Dorling, Direct Payment Service Manager said: “Dealing with finances can be overwhelming at the best of times. Many of our families employ support workers directly, adding another layer of responsibility or they need to find alternative services which meet their child’s needs to ensure they spend funding in the best way. Lone working allows us as a charity to support as many families in the community as possible to take the stress out of the process. However, we understand that lone working does come with a set of risks and we want our employees to feel safe and secure as they do so.”
The StaySafe lone worker products provides session check-ins to indicate lone workers are safe; access to a panic alert in an emergency; discreet panic options for volatile situations; and in house monitoring
When families are referred to Beams by the local authority, case workers have no prior knowledge of the family before entering their homes. A family may be under pressure, as a child in the family may have a terminal illness, or a re-assessment by the local authority means funding is cut or removed. It is the responsibility of the Beams employees to arrange recovery of left-over funding. Beams employees have experienced little trouble from clients, who are generally happy to receive their support. But the charity felt safety has become an increasing priority.
Karen Dorling adds: “Over the years we have looked into and discussed a number of systems that would allow us to check in with our lone workers, however, we felt that none of these solutions really provided all of the functionality we were looking for – until we were recommended StaySafe.”
Recognising that periods of travel and working in people’s homes pose their own set of risks, Beams employees are required to run a session for the entire work period. Check-ins are required when safely arriving at a client’s property, upon leaving the meeting and safely ended when arriving back home. This ensures Beams know staff safe after a period of travel or home visit. Employees also received training on all the app features, in particular the discreet panic alert. A discreet panic allows a lone worker to send an alert out of view if they find themselves in a volatile situation, while the duress PIN can be used to appear as though the app has been switched off if confronted by an aggressor.
Monitoring and response
All employees are set up in the StaySafe Hub and a rota means someone is always monitoring at the office. Not only does this ensure that there is always someone available to respond to alerts, Beams have also found that being responsible for each other’s safety has improved team morale and well-being.
Karen Dorling adds: “Feedback from all employees has been really positive. We all use the app while out and about and the functionality offers everything we wanted. Having all employees set up in the Hub means we are all looking out for each other which has seen real benefits for team morale and bonding. We tested out the alerts and response procedure when we were first set up with StaySafe which meant everyone could see first-hand that the system is there to look out for their safety.”