Home Care: Staff-Related Risks
January 6, 2017 | Health System Risk Management
Home care is a rapidly growing industry, and the core element of the services it provides is its staff. The number of people who work for home care agencies more than doubled from 700,000 in 2005 to 1.4 million in 2015, and another 800,000 individuals were estimated to work directly for consumers through publicly funded programs.
Home care is projected to create more than 600,000 additional jobs over the next decade, more than any other occupation in the U.S. economy. (PHI) Two key aspects of home care make staff-related risks unique in this setting: the fact that staff members usually work alone and the organization's general lack of control over the work environment.
Risks involving home care staff may affect staff members themselves, clients, family members, visitors, others who live in the building, and the home care organization. For example, health and safety risks, ranging from illness and injury to risks in the social environment and community (e.g., transgression of professional boundaries), abound in home care. Additionally, some improper employment practices, such as insufficient background checks, can pose risks to clients and family members, while others, such as discrimination or failure to address sexual harassment by a client, can pose risks to the staff member. All pose risks for the home care organization—in the form of tort liability, insurance claims, and sanctions for noncompliance with applicable laws or regulations. Additionally, organizations may face issues such as lost work time, high staff turnover, low morale, and bad publicity. Insurance claims may fall under professional liability, general liability, employment practices liability, executive protection or fiduciary liability, workers' compensation, short- or long-term disability, or automobile liability, to name a few.
This guidance article discusses home care risks involving staff, including employment issues; injuries, illnesses, and workers' compensation; and risks in the social environment and community. Home care staff face many other risks common to healthcare personnel (e.g., latex sensitivity), but this...