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10.3 Lone Working Framework: Emergency Duty Team

This chapter was added to the manual in November 2013.

This framework should be read in conjunction with The Corporate Health and Safety Code of Practice, with particular reference to: 

Controlling the Risks Arising from Violence and Aggression: Manager’s guidance.

Avoiding Violence and aggression at work: Employee guidance.


  1. Introduction
  2. Key Principles
  3. Operational Requirements
  4. Employee Responsibilities
  5. Operational Checks
  6. Review
  7. Escalation Plan

    Appendix 1: Long worker Mobile Phone Procedures

1. Introduction

The policy aims to identify a Lone Working framework for Emergency Duty Team social workers and their managers. The health and safety of this workforce and the management of risk arising from work based activities is a key consideration. This policy acknowledges that this involves both employee (personal) responsibility and managerial responsibility.

2. Key Principles

This is a standard framework that everybody is expected to follow.

  • All staff are familiar with the Corporate Health And Safety Code of Practice and this Lone Working Framework (Emergency Duty Team);
  • Failure to follow the framework may result in disciplinary action;
  • Tracking information is visible, current, accurate and complete;
  • There is clear identification of key roles and responsibilities and an escalation process to follow;
  • Inspection and review processes are identified and followed.

3. Operational Requirements

White Board: Is used as a back up in the EDT office for colleagues during office based shifts.

YHN Lone worker/ Jontek

  • Is accessed using mobile phones;
  • Is recorded electronically and accessed by YHN call handling staff;
  • Electronic system contains worker details and escalation plan.

Information required on the Jontek system, includes:

  • Name of person visiting;
  • Intended address and postcode;
  • Time attending and leaving;
  • Office bases visiting/using;
  • Time ringing back;
  • Specific warnings regarding any persons deemed to be of concern;
  • Any safety planning details and other agencies involved;
  • Any changes to the locations or subsequent additional visits and changes to timescales should be updated by logging new information on Jontek to replace the existing call log and verbally advising YHN call handlers.

4. Employee Responsibilities

As per policy guidance (Avoiding Violence and Aggression at Work - employee guidance) all home visits should be risk assessed prior to visit using information available including that from CareFirst and gathered from other agencies. If particular risks identified a management plan should be agreed with colleagues on duty, the Team Manager or Service manager. This could include for example two people visits or arranging a suitable venue to meet away from the person’s home. Essential to the operation of the policy is good communication between EDT Social workers and YHN call handling staff.

4.1 Social worker responsibilities:

  • Ensure that YHN call staff are aware that they are on shift, provide their extension number for the shift and ensure that when in the office their line is available unless dealing with a call or on a break;
  • Ensure that YHN call handling staff are aware when they have finished their shift and call forward their line.

When arranging visits

  • Ensure an adequate safety plan is in place which has been discussed in advance with other agencies involved;
  • Alert Team manager or Service manager if this is required in addition to the lone worker tracker system;
  • Note their location and visit details on the white board if office based at the time of the visit to ensure colleagues are aware of location and expected time of return;
  • Complete the process of logging the visit with Jontek with all information;
  • Utilise the Jontek system to log changes and inform YHN call handlers;
  • Will have their mobile phone charged, on, and will respond asap to messages;
  • Will provide personal details including, home address, next of kin, home phone number/personal mobile number and make of care and registration details. They will update these with any changes;
  • Will maintain current electronic records and update warnings.

4.2 YHN responsibilities

YHN call centre manager and staff will manage the electronic tracker. YHN staff will:

  • Update the tracker with all new verbal information as given to them;
  • Inform the Team Manager/Service manager with delegated responsibility if they have any concerns about social workers not reporting in within the workers identified contact time (see escalation plan);
  • Have access to up to date mobile telephone numbers of all social workers and Team Managers.

4.3 Team Managers Responsibilities

The Team Manager/ Service manager will:

  • Have their work mobile phone charged, on, and respond to messages asap;
  • Follow the escalation plan if staff members are not contactable;
  • Discuss and agree contact arrangements as requested by Emergency Duty social workers where there are identified warnings in place for any service user;
  • Agree Out of Hour contact plans with staff members;
  • Carry out spot checks to determine the proper use of the lone worker tracker;
  • Follow the escalation plan where there is any cause for concern. (see escalation plan);
  • Performance manage staff not using the tracker in accordance with the policy;
  • Use supervision sessions to prompt staff to maintain up to date personal details information (1 x 6 monthly).

5. Operational Checks

  • Team manager to complete spot checks 1 x monthly. This will include looking at the previous months’ lone worker tracking activity to see if there is evidence that people are using the electronic system and are ringing in after visits etc. This will be recorded on a review spreadsheet;
  • Asking YHN and social workers if they have any concerns;
  • Responding to any concerns raised by staff during the operational use of the policy.

6. Review

The Lone Working framework for Emergency Duty Social Work staff will be reviewed regularly.

  • First review: Three months after implementation of new framework repeat whole team exercise to identify problems/issues and solutions and assess against information from 31/3/13 (implementation of new call handling arrangements);
  • Adjust framework accordingly;
  • Review annually thereafter.

7. Escalation Plan

Where a Lone Worker(s) has gone on a visit and they have not contacted the YHN call centre base/ electronic Jontek system within the time period agreed for the specific visit:

7.1 In the event of an alert received on the electronic system

YHN staff will monitor any alert received from the worker via the remote system during the visit and listen in to the call to identify any specific concerns occurring at that location and contact police urgently if the worker (s) are clearly at immediate risk.

7.2 In the event of the worker not making contact at the agreed time

YHN staff will attempt to contact the worker (s) via mobile on all of the numbers provided by the worker which have been entered on to the system.

YHN will attempt to contact the worker via the stated location if this is possible e.g. if the worker has indicated they will be attending A&E (0191 2336161) or Greentrees at St Nicholas Hospital (0191 2232229)

In the event that the worker cannot be contact within 30 minutes (or sooner if specific warnings or risks have been noted on the system in advance) YHN call staff will alert the Team Manager/ Service manager.

Team manager/ Service manager will consider the following guidance to determine the level of response and actions required by them. This is guidance only and the Team Manager/person with delegated responsibility will use their own judgement about following the identified steps. This list is not intended to be exhaustive and other actions may be suitable.

  1. Check the details of the last contact by the social worker;
  2. See if there are warnings in place against the service user’s name;
  3. Trace steps through the tracking arrangements as far as possible and identify when last seen/or heard from;
  4. Ring the person’s mobile (work and personal) and leave a message to immediately phone in if they do not answer;
  5. Telephone the Agency location/ service user(s) being visited and ask them if they have seen the staff member/or to prompt to ring in;
  6. If contact is made with the social worker and it is suspected that they are being threatened ask ‘are you all right?’ to enable staff to say yes/no;
  7. Consider the information available about the service user(s) on CareFirst and gather further information from other agencies as required;
  8. Consider if there are any particular relevant circumstances about the worker for e.g. are they newly qualified?
  9. Consider if the behaviour is unusual for that worker;
  10. Consider whether there are any environmental factors for e.g. weather conditions which could be delaying contact;
  11. Consider contacting home address/Next of Kin;
  12. Contact the police. Provide details of social worker’s car and personal details and advise police that YHN call handlers have access to a photograph of the social worker.

Appendix 1: Long worker Mobile Phone Procedures

1. Introduction

The purpose of this procedure it to ensure that all staff who have occasion to work alone, or when making home visits are able to set up and use their mobile phone as a lone worker device.

2. Initial phone set up

Before you leave your base location, ensure that the mobile phone has had speed dial keys assigned. These keys will eliminate the need to input telephone numbers to access the option of the lone worker system.

If your phone has not had speed dial keys assigned, follow the procedure below

To make it easier to remember which button performs which function, it is easiest to programme the numbers on keys 2, 5 & 8 in the order that you would use them.

The three numbers are as follow:

  • Speed dial 2 - 0191 2136554 for the IVR, this is the automated service where you programme your visits;
  • Speed dial 8 - 0191 2136586 to log out, this is where you call and hang up after two rings to show that you have finished your visit/s;
  • Speed dial 5 – 0191 2132025, lone worker SOS, this is the number you never want to use for real, however it is the most important, as it is the one you press in an emergency. We strongly advise that you use speed dial five as it has two raised bumps on the button, so you can feel which number to press if your phone was in a pocket or a hand bag.

Once you have programmed these buttons in to your phone, please follow the steps below

  • At the start of you shift call speed dial 2 and the system will automatically recognise the mobile number if registered. You can log each visit individually or in groups, your local arrangements will provide guidance as to what is most appropriate for your area;
  • When you finish your shift, call speed dial 8, make sure it has rung 2-3 times and hang up, this logs you out of your working day;
  • Press speed dial 5 if you wish to make an emergency call, this will present in the Enquiry Centre, the Enquiry Centre staff member will assess the call and arrange for the appropriate response bearing in mind that you have activated the alarm for a police response.

3. Key points to remember

  • The Lone Worker has initiated the alarm as they want the police called to their location, the system is NOT to be used for anything else;
  • When the alarm is activated the Enquiry Centre staff member is to listen into the call, however will not speak until spoken to by the Lone Worker. If the call centre worker cannot hear anything or the Lone Worker has not spoken to them, they will call the police to that location;
  • The call centre worker will check if the lone worker has placed a message on the system which can be listened to;
  • We want to minimise if not eliminate any waste 999 calls, as such it is imperative that you remember to log out at the end of the day, if not the system will alert the Enquiry centre after a predetermined time period. We understand how easy it is to forget, so the whole process is supported by your local arrangements. As such, it is essential that these are kept up to date.

4. Lone worker procedure

  • Dial 0191 2136554 or speed dial 2;
  • Enter the visit duration in the format hh:mm, system will request to re-enter if wrong. (CCAS staff to enter their shift duration);
  • System will ask if a message is required, if yes press 1 to record message and give the details of the address. (this can be listened to within the E/C using Jontek), press # to continue without message;
  • If a message is required record this after the tone. Press # to end the recording.