4 Personal Safety Tips for Nurses and Home Health Workers
“Four at the Door”
At the Front Door
Home health providers, social workers, nurses, hospice care workers, chaplains, and any other field-based professionals should be on guard when knocking on a client’s door, especially during the first visit. As always, personal safety is paramount.
These four strategies – while simple – are highly effective in making you that much safer whether you’re knocking on someone’s door for the first time, or the hundredth time.
Distance is Always Your Friend.
Knock and step back several feet. (If you’re knocking on the door of a trailer home, perhaps reach through the railings and knock on the bottom of the door to avoid the stairs.)
Simply putting space between you and the door gives you more space and time to react if something dodgy happens. Police refer to this as the “reactionary gap,” or “reactionary cushion.”
Stay off the Center Line.
Moving to the side takes you off the center line – and out of the central line of sight – which leaves you less vulnerable to something like a dog charging out the door.
Stand on the Hinge Side of the Door.
As you step to the side, try whenever possible to stand on the hinge side of the door frame. This allows you to see more of the room behind the person opening the door, than if you were on the door handle side.
Partially “Blade” Your Body.
This means to position your body at about a 45 degree angle towards the door, as opposed to facing it squarely with your shoulders. “Blade**” your body once you’re back and off to the hinge side of the frame. The advantage in standing at an angle, or partial “blading” is that this allows you to monitor what is going on behind you (your blind spot) as well as keeping an eye on the door. This position also allows you to quickly turn away from the door and leave if you need to.
One last thought….. If you put down your bag while waiting, place it between you and the door, and not behind you or on your flank. This way, if you need to leave quickly, you won’t trip over it.
It Happened to Me: A True Story From Lone Worker Training
The provider said she did everything described above except for the partial blading stance. She said her shoulders were square to the door, and when it was opened, she was shoved from behind into the residence and robbed of her possessions.
Does this happen every day? Of course not. But knowing what is going on behind you and at the door and at all times is critical – and doing so makes you a much “harder target.”
**A simple technique that will help you cover that BLIND SPOT behind you.