Now you’ve seen the videos I’ve been putting out this week on vicarious liability and I’ve now got another interesting story for you.
This is about a care home, a residential care home, it’s not a secure care home, and in this particular care home, they’ve got a service user that started to exhibit some quite extreme behaviour.
Now this only just started to happen, but what this service user does is he leaves the home and goes to a bridge and threatens to jump off the bridge into fast moving traffic.
So someone rang me up and said:
“What do we do about this because we’re concerned about the advice we’ve been getting?”
So I said,
“Well, what advice have you had?”
And they said they had a meeting with the multidisciplinary team and Social Services were there and the opinion of them all was that they should follow this service user at a safe distance, if he becomes violently aggressive towards them, they’re to extract themselves and leave.
But if he goes to jump off the bridge, then they are to grab hold of him and restrain him.
And obviously, there’s another risk then that comes to play because if he goes over the bridge and staff are holding onto him, one of them might go over the bridge with him and end up dead, so that’s not a good thing unless they restrain him before he gets to the bridge.
But they also got some advice from the police who were called to the meeting, and the police apparently said,
“You’re not allowed to restrain him in a public place. You don’t have the authority to do it and your insurance cover probably won’t cover you for it.”
Now, the first one, you can discuss that and argue that point, but the second one may be an issue to the insurance cover, and I’ve done videos on this before.
So I said,
“Well, what’s in the risk assessment? Has someone done a risk assessment on this?”
And they said,
“Well, yes they have and the advice we’re getting is to follow him at a safe distance and if he goes to jump, restrain him, but the police are saying we can’t.”
I said, “Okay, but is he in the right environment?”
And this is where it got interesting because they said, “Well, the local authority who part fund this won’t pay the extra for him to go into a secure accommodation.
They want us to manage the issue in the home.”
“Well, if you look at a risk assessment, the first step of risk assessment when you have a hazard, particularly a high risk hazard like this, is to eliminate the problem at source, and if you put him into a secure care home where it’s the right environment with the right trained staff, then the risk of him jumping off the bridge is eliminated at source and you don’t need to do anything else.”
“Yeah, but once again, local authority who fund this will not pay the additional money for him to go into a secure place. They want us to manage the problem in this care home.”
“No, you can’t manage the problem because it’s beyond your capability. You don’t have resources. He’s in the wrong environment.”
So I said,
“Go and do the risk assessment, but also quote them the Hesley Hall case.” And the Hesley Hall case was the one I put out in the first video on vicarious liability and its implications and quote them that case. Here’s another case that you can look at because fundamentally, if they are asking you to go out into a public place and restrain him when he’s going to jump from a bridge, the organisation is taking a huge risk with regards to their liability there because that’s a direct liability for the organisation because they’ve given you that instruction.”
“And the fact that Social Services won’t commit to pay for it, I would have someone minute the meeting and write this down.” So I said, “Write down a chronological list and order and sequence of everything you’ve been told, everything that’s been said, who said it, and put that into the risk assessment.”
And I gave them the cases to look at and I gave them a little bit more advice.
He went back and within hours he called me and he said,
“Thanks ever so much for that. They’re moving him into a more secure environment that’s more suitable for the types of behaviours he’s expressing.”
And the interesting thing about this was, when I was chatting with this guy, I said,
“Who did the risk assessment on this? Who was responsible for the risk assessment?”
“Well, the multidisciplinary team are responsible, but they gave it to me to do.”
“Have you had any training on how to do a risk assessment?”
“None. None whatsoever.”
And this is a common problem out there. Lots of people are being told to go and do a risk assessment and they’re given a piece of paper or a document to fill in without any training.
Now, the law requires that you must be either competent or qualified or both to do something that you’re being asked to do at work, so you would never give someone the authority to go and physically restrain someone … well, maybe some agencies do, but you shouldn’t, unless you’ve trained them.
They’ve got to be properly trained. And it’s the same with managing risk. If they want people to do a risk assessment, they’ve got to be properly trained, and if the organisation doesn’t train them, then they’re liable for any flaws within that risk assessment that could lead to a subsequent negligence that could result in someone being harmed or potentially, in this case, killed.
So my tip for you today is if you are responsible for risk assessments, make sure you’ve had the right training and you have the knowledge and the competence and the understanding because a risk assessment must be done by a suitably qualified and sufficient person.
That’s what the law requires in the Health and Safety Work Act and the regulations to go with it and accompany it, and you must be competent and or qualified.
And you can be the qualified, by the way, and not competent, but you want to be competent as well as qualified. And the court cases are full of people who are highly qualified who have been found guilty because they’re not competent. So you want to be competent and qualified.
Okay, I hope that helps. If you have any questions, leave a comment below and I’ll get back to you. Thanks for listening and I’ll speak to you soon.