Carer Calls For Better Protection After Knife Attack

Report Finds No Risk Assessment Or Training Given To Workers In Dealing With Aggressive Behaviour


By Dave Grimshaw

A carer attacked with a knife on a routine house visit by a man with learning difficulties has called for more protection for care-workers after it was revealed that there was no risk assessment or training in how to deal with aggressive behaviour.

Michael Greaves, a carer from The Dale, Sheffield, was cut on his arm by a man with learning difficulties including autism and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) while helping him make lunch on a house visit in August 2010.

Investigations by specialist workplace injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell revealed that an incident report by his employers, Mears Care Ltd, found that there was no risk assessment or training given to care workers despite the man previously showing aggressive behaviour.

In May 2010 he had twice trapped a carer’s hand in a door and on 14 and 15 August - just three days prior to the knife attack - calls had been logged from previous carers saying he was agitated.

Despite this Michael was given no further warnings or training about how to deal with aggressive behaviour or how to deal with people suffering with autism – the only guidance in the care plans was to leave and call the office if anything happened.

An incident review by Mears Care also identified that there was poor communication between social workers and the autistic man in explaining why his care provider had recently changed and why he could no longer see his mother who was in a care home, which may have led to his challenging behaviour.

The report demanded the relevant branch manager at Mears Care to review all service users who are a risk of aggressive behaviour and that specific training be given to all carers dealing with people on the autism spectrum.

Lawyers at Irwin Mitchell have now called for more protection to be given to care workers after securing Michael an undisclosed settlement to cover the trauma and injuries he experienced during the incident.

Katy Bailey, an expert in workplace injury law at Irwin Mitchell representing Michael said: “Being a carer can be highly stressful and you have to be aware of the potential risks around you. Michael is an experienced carer who had visited this man before.

“Had he received warning message from the office he would have been aware that the man was likely to be agitated again and would have been more cautious around him. Also the care plans in place contained no risk assessments despite it being known that he was likely to display aggressive behaviour.

“Luckily Michael’s injuries were not too severe and he has been able to return to work, but the case highlights that more protection is needed for care-workers. If Michael had been given the appropriate training, and if a proper risk assessment for dealing with aggression had been carried out, this incident may have been avoided.”

Michael was making lunch as the man chatted to him from the doorway and got a knife out of the drawer to cut some salad before placed it on the kitchen side to go to the microwave. Suddenly he felt a tug on his t-shirt and as he spun round he saw the person he was providing care for standing holding the knife having cut Michael’s arm.

The wound took six weeks to fully heal and he has been left with a permanent scar on his arm. In separate incidents Michael had also had his hand trapped in a door, injured his eye when a wardrobe door was slammed into him and had a vacuum cleaner thrown at his back.

Michael, who was off work for a week before returning to his normal job, said: “I had visited him several times before and have been attacked by clients on other occasions so I know to be generally wary. If I’d been given the message that he was agitated just days before then I would have obviously been more cautious but I was never given any warning.

“One minute we were chatting while he was just stood in the doorway as I made some lunch, the next thing I know he tugged my shirt and had cut me with the knife on the arm. I left immediately to alert the office and make sure social services were called before going to hospital to get it cleaned and treated.

“This incident won’t stop me doing my job, I know it’s a risk of the role, but I just want to make sure that others don’t get put in a similar situation in future. Care companies need to make sure their workers on the ground receive any warning messages and are provided with the appropriate training before they attend a visit.”

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