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Early Intervention Speech Therapy

Home Care Dangers and Risks

Published April 8, 2014 8:39 AM by Stephanie Bruno-Dowling
I have been a homecare therapist off and on for almost 9 years. During those years I have experienced a wide variety of interactions with people from varied communities. I've treated children in homes and childcare facilities in affluent, middle class and impoverished areas. Recently, there has been an increase in gun violence during daytime hours in one of the areas where my co-workers and I treat on a daily basis. Concern is rising not only at work but within our surrounding communities. At our last staff meeting our supervisor and the staff took time to problem-solve how to hopefully prevent being caught in the throes of a violent outbreak. 

Here are some of the ideas we came up with and discussed:

  • Be Aware of Your Surroundings - This is essential and can definitely help prevent dangerous situations from happening. Look around and take note of suspicious activity, people arguing or anything that looks like it could be a potentially treacherous scenario.
  • Trust Your Gut - If a situation feels unsafe or your instincts are kicking in and telling you to flee the scene or avoid it all together, it is important to listen. Although we are there to perform a service, we are not expected to risk our lives to complete this task.
  • Keep Your Phone Handy - Keep your phone on your person so that it is always with you in case an emergency situation should arise.
  • Co-Treat with Other Therapists/Special Instructor - As my mother used to say, there is often safety in numbers. The challenge here is to make sure the therapeutic model remains intact and therapy is still beneficial to both the child and the family.
  • Add Social Work to the Team - This is appropriate if the family desires the added service and is concerned about their own safety as well. A social worker can help provide a wide variety of resources for a family, including helping them look for a safer place to live.
  • Attend Additional Trainings - Knowing  how to handle a dangerous work environment will be instrumental if faced with a hazardous and even deadly situation. Attending trainings and seminars that educate service providers about such issues can really make all the difference.

Would love to hear from readers about this issue and  if you are faced with this challenge in the workplace.

Please write in and share your experiences and advice!

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3 comments

Thank you both for sharing your experiences. I am going to write a follow-up post about this growing problem. Stay Safe!

stephanie dowling, blog author May 18, 2014 11:01 PM

My community has several areas where there are sometimes gang stabbings and shootings during the day, but most areas are safe. Another area has a large population of ex-cons and registered sex offenders, because it's one of the few apartment complexes far enough from schools, daycare, and parks. I don't live and work in the inner city. I am actually in a nice suburb near a large city. Most people have these same issues in their town, but are just unaware of them. I'm aware of these unsafe areas, because my husband works in emergency services and knows police in these towns. In some areas, my car has been targeted for vandalism, in front of me, because I am a different ethnicity. After a fellow provider was threatened by gang members, I was threatened by a parent that they would deliberately lie about my work to our coordinator if I wouldn't turn a blind eye to illegal behavior, and my car being targeted--all with three different families in several towns, I made the decision that my health and safety are a priority to me and my family. I no longer will see families in these areas. It initially did not sit well with some coordinators and for awhile my referrals decreased. That was two years ago.  They have since increased and I continue to have a full client base. The bottom line is, while we can have great compassion for families who are unfortunate enough to have to live among criminals and want to help them, we can't help anyone if we are dead.

Amy, Speech Path April 29, 2014 10:57 PM

Working in safety-compromised conditions is an aspect of my early intervention and extended school year service provision.  I actually conducted a Child Find evaluation in a home where the uncle sitting behind be throughout the assessment ended up being accused of murdering a teacher out for her morning jog.  I often ask parents to meet me at the park, library, school or other public area. I've even told a dad, who was engaged in drug use and had multiple arrests that my insurance did not cover me going into people's homes to provide services.

Edie April 28, 2014 9:52 PM

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About this Blog


    Stephanie Bruno Dowling, M.S. CCC-SLP
    Occupation: Speech-Language Pathologist
    Setting: Early Intervention in Delaware County, PA
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