Saturday 9 June 2012

When 'Carer' Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means...

A teenager died after falling from a windowsill while being supervised by staff at a home for people with brain injuries, an inquest heard.
James Brotherhood was strapped into a wheelchair when he climbed up to see a motorbike he had heard outside the Aaron's Unit in Loughborough.
Nearby carers did not physically intervene for "health and safety" reasons.
Senior care assistant Dale Watret told the inquest at Loughborough Town Hall yesterday that he was in the room with James when he climbed on the windowsill, but he could not physically step in to get him down because of health and safety policy.
Mr Watret said carers were told to talk to patients and distract them from behaving in ways that might cause them to harm themselves.
Which, given it's a home for those with brain injuries, seems a bit...odd, does it not?

Further questioning revealed just who the concerns were for, or course:
Coroner Robert Chapman asked Mr Watret: "Why didn't you grab him?"
Mr Watret replied: "Health and safety policy states you don't catch anyone to break their fall."
Mr Chapman asked if that was the firm's policy.
Mr Watret replied: "It's health and safety policy all over the country, I am led to believe."
He told the inquest he was concerned about being injured himself.
At least he's no longer employed by the home. Hopefully, their H&S policies have been revised too.


Woman on a Raft said...

I wish it was as simple as that.

Several years ago I removed an autistic child from the shelf above the coat-pegs in the cloakroom, where he had climbed. I did this to prevent him falling and to bring him back in to the classroom as he was not supposed to be running round the corridor playing Batman.

A few minutes later a white-faced teacher rightly pointed out that I hadn't understood what a potentially hazardous position I had put myself in.

Firstly, there was a risk of the child falling in the process of what I did, which would make it my fault. If he fell on his own, then it wouldn't be my fault in the event of an enquiry. They would just explain that legally, they had been unable to restrain him and that he should not have been in mainstream schooling. System failure, not personal liability.

Secondly, he might have fallen on me. In the event of being injured I might not be able to claim on the insurance because I should not have intervened.

Thirdly, he might accuse me of mishandling him, which would result in instant suspension plus a visit from the police and social workers. This was particularly serious in this child's case as he had learned that accusing an adult of hurting him always resulted in getting attention and stopped the adult imposing any discipline. I had observed this when he accused an assistant on the far side of the room of hitting him when he did not wish to put toys away.

I can quite understand why a carer may have received instructions not to intervene if they were on their own.

You underestimate the risks of intervening.

blueknight said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
blueknight said...

W.O.A.R. sad but true. Teachers, Ambulance staff and the Police are all in the same boat.
The title Health and Safety is a complete misnomer as it usually neither

JuliaM said...

"I can quite understand why a carer may have received instructions not to intervene if they were on their own."

Yes, we have rigid application of guidelines and the lack of 'it was the wrong thing, but for the right reasons' outlook to thank. Plus compo culture too.

"The title Health and Safety is a complete misnomer as it usually neither"

Spot on!