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According to a survey by UNISON, the number of incidents in which NHS personnel have been victims of attacks by patients is rising. In English NHS Trusts the number of personal attacks in 2016-17 were up by nearly 10% compared to the year before. This is a five-year high. Nurses, paramedics and mental health staff suffer most of the attacks. Last year, the number of assaults on school staff also increased.
The Health and Safety Executive’s guidelines state clearly that it is the employers’ responsibility to take steps to safeguard employees. While many measures like CCTV cameras and access controls help to decrease the risk of violence in the facility overall, there will always be situations, where these are just not enough, and a more personalised protection system is needed.
Most mental health facilities now have a personal attack alarm system installed. Worn directly on the person, for example attached to a belt, a small device can be used to trigger an alarm. These devices come in different forms like badges or in the shape of a cylinder, no larger than a marker pen.
Pinpoint is the leading developer and manufacturer of personal attack alarm systems in the UK and its systems are installed in many workplace environments globally. Where the alarm sounds and who gets notified depends on the set-up and can be tailored to each facility and team. Not every incident will necessarily develop into a major crisis, especially if intervention happens early.
Millennium Care, a specialised care home for people with learning difficulties and complex needs in North Yorkshire, has first-hand experience of the advantages of a personal attack alarm system. Many of the residents have a common trait: Due to the conditions they present with, they are prone to exhibiting very challenging behaviour, which can expose staff to assault from (usually unintentional) outbursts of violent activity. It is therefore of paramount importance that staff can covertly summon help immediately when they need to de-escalate a situation before it has the chance to become violent.
On a second level, staff also need to summon a ‘crash-team’ should a non- emergency situation arise either due to a threat to the staff member or other residents, or indeed if a patient health emergency arises. For both of these situations to work reliably, the alarm needs to be raised from a device worn on the person because often the ‘threat’ could physically be in-between the staff member and a wall-mounted call button.
Rachel Blackburn, Head of Care Homes for Millennium Care explains why they like the Pinpoint System:” Thankfully, due to the reliability and speed of action of the Pinpoint System, most incidents now only require ‘help to de-escalate’ alarms.
“True emergency calls are much more infrequent now, but when those do happen, Pinpoint raises the alarm with a combination of audible alarms, graphic displays in strategic locations plus flashing over door lights in the corridor outside the room containing the emergency. All of which combine to ensure the crash-team is guided to the correct room within seconds. This results in less danger to our staff, less danger for our other residents and in fact, because situations can be defused much more quickly, far less likelihood of the other residents themselves becoming disturbed.”
In addition to fielding the personal alarms, the System can be integrated with existing security products like CCTV and access control. Martyn Perry, Head of Programme Management Office and Assistive Technology Strategy Lead at St. George’s Hospital in Stafford could see the value of the technology quickly: “We needed a staff alarm system that linked into existing security systems elsewhere in the hospital. Pinpoint’s technology can provide that.
“On the wards, the staff have control screens in the central ward office. We also have a paging system from a different provider, but Pinpoint had no problem linking their alarm system to that. Our previous system only worked with its own proprietary components so we couldn’t interlink it.”
In order to ensure reliability and the fastest possible response to any alarm raised, Pinpoint has launched a mobile app that enables mobile devices to receive information like alarms, patient calls and system status updates. Where BYOD (bring your own device) is permitted, users can now interact with the Pinpoint System on their own phone as well as existing iPads that they have on them every day, rather than having to carry additional mobile devices. Data transmission utilises any available connection like Wi-Fi and cellular 4G technology, providing better coverage and reliability than traditional paging systems.
It is unrealistic to think that assaults will cease to happen in some working environments, but the technology exists to help reduce the number of attacks and minimise the severity.
About Pinpoint Limited
Pinpoint Ltd is the UK’s leading developer and manufacturer of Staff Personal Alarm Systems. Founded in 1992 in Leven, Scotland, by the late Executive Chairman, John Waring, Pinpoint develops, manufactures and installs reliable, easy-to-use systems for protecting staff at risk of violence in the workplace. Thousands of Pinpoint Systems have been installed across a multitude of different workplace environments.
Pinpoint is headquartered in Scotland and has offices in England, Ireland and the USA.
Ajax Way, Methil Docks
Leven KY8 3RS
Fife, Scotland, UK