Social Security Experience Panels - keeping staff and clients safe: report

This report outlines the findings of a survey conducted with panel members, which looked to help design the processes for keeping Social Security Scotland staff and clients safe.

This document is part of a collection

When visiting a client in their house

Like within the office environment, the majority of respondents said that staff should go in pairs during home visits.

“Maybe visit in twos and the client could have a trusted carer in attendance”.

“Go in pairs”.

“Home visits should be conducted by two people”.

Respondents felt that staff should leave in the event of unacceptable actions but always arrange another appointment.

“Ask if they want some ‘time out’. Arrange another appointment if needs to be”.

“Advise you need to leave and will reschedule for a more appropriate time when they are not feeling so distressed”.

Respondents had said that staff should speak to clients respectfully when facing with an unacceptable action.

“A calm and professional manner”.

Actions following unacceptable actions

The survey asked what Social Security Scotland should do when a client has displayed unacceptable actions. The majority of respondents felt that to reduce the risk to staff or other clients, two staff members should be present during face to face interactions. The second most popular option was allowing contact through third parties only (70 per cent).

Table 8. What actions do you think Social Security Scotland should take if a person’s actions have been deemed unacceptable and therefore, considered a risk to staff or other clients? (n=291)

Actions to reduce risk %
Limit face to face contact and only do so, if two staff members are present 80
Only allow contact through third parties, for example an advocate 70
Only allow contact in writing 36
Only allow contact for certain topics 23
Other, please specify 12

Almost nine in ten respondents (89 per cent) felt that it is important to alert staff before they interact with clients who had previously displayed unacceptable actions.

Table 9. If a client has displayed unacceptable actions in the past, do you think it is important that we alert our staff before they interact with the client? (n=293)

Alerting staff %
Yes 89
No 4
I don’t know 6
Total 99

A chi-square of association was carried out to identify any differences in the responses in alerting staff members. There was a significant association[5]. between age and notifying staff on unacceptable actions. All respondents between 16-44 wanted staff to be alerted compared to 84 per cent of respondents aged between 45-79.

Respondents who provided further comments on this point felt that staff should know who they are dealing with and how to handle the situation, but that the information should not be used to judge the client or treat them badly.

“Staff need to be fully informed of potential problems so they can deal with the situation appropriately and safely”.

“It’s important staff are aware before visiting that a situation may escalate. But approaching clients with kindness and patience, and giving them opportunity to improve their behaviour is important”.

“Yes inform staff to make them aware of potential situation. Staff must not pre-judge with this knowledge or treat individual differently”.

Respondents felt that alerting staff of previous unacceptable actions can help staff handle the situation.

“It would be easier to anticipate potential problems and try to avoid them. Also you need to know if you should not see the client alone”.

A small number of respondents (4 per cent) felt that staff should not be informed, while 6 per cent weren’t sure if they should be informed about individuals who previously displayed unacceptable actions. These respondents felt that if staff knew before then that could negatively affect the interaction between staff and client.

“This may cause interviewer to expect violent behaviour and behave in a more defensive manner”.

“Of course measures should be taken to keep everyone safe, but I also feel

that having certain information available before dealing with a new agent could make them prejudice towards the client”.

“This information could bias a staff members attitude towards the client”.



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