Throughout the UK litigation has increased to almost US levels – do you remember those days in 1980 when we Brits laughed at the Americans and swore it would never happen in the UK? – and unfortunately the care home market is no exception.
Care homes have been suffering increasingly from a raft of litigious claims which, allied with rises in the cost of litigation and awards, are leading to many insurers reconsidering whether they are able to underwrite the increasing risks and, if they are able to do so, whether the market will be able to bear these increased costs.
In our view, emphasis on active Risk Management is key to making your business better, reducing claims and helping to redress the situation for the whole care industry. Inevitably this will have other positive benefits to your business by protecting your employees, residents, clients and any other visitors to your care home, as well as your property and your business itself.
What can you do?
Put simply, Risk Management involves you identifying and analysing the risks which can threaten your business. Take your front door for example. Can someone coming in open it on to someone on the other side without knowing they’re there? Would a glazed panel help? The analysis of this risk has to involve the effect and likelihood of this happening. If the consequence is of minimal damage and no injury, then there may be limited benefit of doing anything even if the likelihood is high. Alternatively, if the risk of injury and damage is high, then it has to be worth looking to reduce the risk.
CHIS suggests you start with incidents which have happened. We had an incident where an employee opened a dishwasher and then tripped over the dishwater door. The home initially felt there was nothing they could do yet, when CHIS visited, a member of staff told us that the dishwasher used to be sited in an ante room of the kitchen and had only been moved a couple of years ago because the claimant felt it would make life easier! The dishwasher is now more safely re-sited back in the other room.
At CHIS we are very supportive of our clients who are keen to review and improve their Risk Management and safety awareness. All too often Risk Management is about common sense but if you are used to working in a particular way it can be very difficult to see the alternatives. That is where CHIS (or an external body) can often see how simple changes can improve your business. We also recognise that change is not an easy message to sell. All too often there is felt to be an implied criticism but this is not the case for CHIS and CHIS’s clients. We want to make your business safer and better, so if we can help, that’s good news all round.
How can CHIS help?
We are able to offer assistance in a number of specific areas:
Health & Safety
How can you minimise the risk of injury to staff, residents and visitors? There are legal issues all UK businesses have to comply with, such as LOLER inspections for all personnel lifting equipment, otherwise prosecution by the HSE can follow. There are also some common sense issues. We had an employee of a care home rush for work in icy conditions as she was running late. She slipped over and brought a claim against our customer, who was found against for having a gravel path and not having cleared the snow/ice from it. The home no longer have gravel and now have a bannister which follows the line of the path to the care home’s front door. The Court awarded the claimant almost £150,000, far more than a few years insurance premium.
The recent advent of flood damage across the UK demonstrates the need to consider how you can minimise the flood risk. One care home suffering over £2M in total damage had a storm drain to take water away from the home. Unfortunately in a dry period someone shut the sluice gate, could the damage have been avoided if the sluice gate had been alarmed?
Legal & PR
Employment law is a very complex area and, with so many laws affecting the employment of any individual employee, it is essential all employers have access to prompt, good quality legal advice. CHIS provides all its customers with access to this service and also have a PR company, Chelgate, readily available 24/7 should the need arise.
Compliance and regulatory Risk Management
The hard line being taken by care regulators and the launch of a new inspection model from the CQC in England “a fresh start” has begun to be felt widely by Care Providers. The onus on Care Providers to evidence strong evidential compliance with care risk management processes is paramount. Care companies who have previously been rated compliant for many years, are finding that their processes, quality assurance and monthly audits are insufficient to provide the audit trails required via the new model.
To help you evidence and demonstrate commitment to proactive compliance with the regulators’ standards, we would recommend provision of an external audit and action plan developed specifically for your services.
Regulators are keen to see the use of external audit, as this provides evidence that providers are taking risk management seriously and are acting on shortcomings and service developments.
As an employer you may feel that the employment laws are stacked against you. Our partners BusinessHR provide a complete HR support service to minimise the risk of employing staff and to reduce the time and stress of dealing with complex HR issues. BusinessHR can support you from recruitment to redundancy with legally compliant documents, HR advice line and an online resource containing a wealth of letters, forms and guidance for all your HR needs.
To find out more and request a quote please visit: http://www.businesshr.com/primecare-hr