Children, young people and adults with an intellectual disability need support and protection so that they are not exposed to unacceptable risks. At the same time, their rights to develop and learn and to be included in all aspects of community life must be recognised.
As well as enabling children, young people and adults to enjoy the opportunities and experiences that all people do, service providers are responsible for assessing and managing risk to ensure they themselves are not reckless or negligent in the carrying out of their duties. Service providers also have duties and responsibilities under Health and Safety Regulations and National Minimum Standards to safeguard the health, safety and welfare of staff and carers. All the work of a Home Sharing / Short Break service provider carries an element of risk. This risk cannot be removed completely but it is possible to manage it.
Home Sharing service providers have a responsibility to ensure that children, young people and adults are cared for as safely as possible. Therefore it is important that before a child, young person or adult comes to stay with you it is advisable that the natural family / keyworker / Social Worker carries out a check of the Host Family home. The care needs and abilities of each person vary widely and a checklist of potential hazards can never be totally comprehensive and following is intended as a quick guide to what might be considered as potential hazards.
A Quick guide to potential hazards
Within the home generally the following should be checked
• Floors: uneven surfaces, are they clear of clutter, wipe up spills immediately, lookout for trailing wires or flexes.
• Stairs: ensure there is adequate lighting, hand rails or stair-gate.
• Doors: check locks are working; glass patio doors may need stickers on them to ensure the person can see them.
• Windows: check locks but ensure there is access in case of fire.
• Furnishings: ornaments and valuables should be put up out of reach if necessary, be aware of sharp corners.
• Electrical fittings: electric socket covers may be needed.
• Heating & fires: always use a fire guard; inspect gas and other appliances each year.
• Safe storage of poisonous or hazardous substances, eg cleaning materials, alcohol.
• Family pets: of appropriate manner and can be safely managed. This will be addressed at assessment stage. Notification must be provided relating to any changes in circumstances of family pets prior to home share occurring.
Within the kitchen
• Hot objects, e.g. irons and kettles
• Sharp objects
• Freezers Within the garden
• Ponds/ streams
• Gates/ fencing
• Sheds and garages
• Storage of hazardous equipment or substances
• Poisonous flowers and plants
Within the bathroom
• Slippery surfaces
• Bath mat
• Storage of medication, cleaning materials etc.
• Hot water tap
• Shower settings
• Key or lock on door Fire safety
It is necessary to have the following in your home
• Smoke alarms, minimum of two ensure they are in working order and check batteries.
• Fire blanket in the kitchen
• Escape plan in the event of a fire – think ahead
Safety outside the home
• Child, young person or adults awareness of danger
• Flight risk ( is there a danger the person will run off)
• Mobile phone is charged and in credit
• Tolerance to certain situations (e.g. overcrowding, noise, children crying)
• Safety of play equipment in parks
• Presence of lifeguards when swimming or other water sports
• Never leave a child young person or adult unattended in a car
The above is a checklist that will help ensure that the short break is a safe and enjoyable time for all involved.
Hygiene and Infection Control in the home
Germs get into our homes all the time – on people, food, and pets and sometime through our water. Cleaning is very important as germs do not have anywhere to live once dirt has been removed. You should clean high- risk areas e.g. bathroom and kitchen ‘as you go’. You don’t need to clean floors as often as you clean high-risk areas.
Keeping your hands clean is the best way of preventing infection spreading in the home. Your hands can pass an infection on and can pick up germs from one place to another. Washing your hands with warm water and soap (preferably liquid soap) and drying them properly will remove germs and prevent them from moving anywhere else.
To prevent infection you should do the following:
• Wash your hands before you touch food.
• Put raw meat at the bottom of the fridge away from other foods.
• Use separate chopping boards, knives and containers for raw food.
• Do not let wet or damp cloths hang around in your kitchen.
• Try not to keep any dirty tea towels in your kitchen.
• Use separate cloths for cleaning the bathroom.
Remember wash your hands!
The above is a checklist that will help ensure that the Home Sharing breaks are a safe and enjoyable time for all involved.