The Health & Safety Executives (HSE) in the UK describes a lone worker as "someone who works by themselves without close or direct supervision"... someone who is working alone! Working alone includes all employees who may go for a period of time where they do not have direct contact with a co-worker.
Anyone working in the healthcare profession will need a great deal of independence to work without the daily support of a team and must therefore be extremely focused and organised.
When working alone, health care and social service workers face a risk of violence for many reasons:
- Isolated work with patients or clients during examinations and treatment.
- Working alone in remote locations (including hospitals or clinics), patients homes, accident scene, etc.
- Availability of drugs and medicines at hospitals, clinics, pharmacies or in emergency response vehicles.
- Public access to most areas of a hospital or clinic.
- Hospitals and many clinics are open to the public 24 hours a day (including the higher risk times of late night/early morning)
It is important to consider all situations carefully; if for example a nurse has been working as part of a team and has now changed their role to work ‘alone’ it will be more essential to be organised and to adapt to a cautious and well planned routine.
There are many advantages of working alone in that it provides a person with the opportunity to structure their day in the manner which best suits them and as a result this can increase productivity as well as overall performance.
It is particularly crucial to be proactive in keeping in touch with colleagues and networks in the healthcare profession and to grasp the opportunity to get involved with events which are not necessarily part of your usual day-to-day work but are relevant to your employment sector, for example if you are a self-employed physiotherapist be part of a physiotherapist group which occasionally meets to learn and share relevant issues.
Give your day structure - Depending on the job you do in the medical industry, you may not have to work from 9 am to 5 pm every day. Nevertheless, commit yourself to working for the same number of hours as you would if you were working in a hospital or medical setting.
Working alone can be a motivating, productive experience if you plan your day well. Think carefully about what inspires you to get your work done. Plan ahead and you will soon feel comfortable and happy with your working schedule and environment.