Should you be doing home visits in Occupational Health

Doing home visits in Occupational Health? Stop and Think

The subject of doing home visits in occupational health often comes up in conversations with other OH professionals and services. Many see it as a great service for employees and shows a caring-sharing side, others see it as a waste of resources and potentially dangerous. Through the years, home visits have played an important part in my practice although sometimes there was the potential for things to backfire – I guess I have been lucky; nowadays I would think twice about just picking up my keys and visiting. An unsuccessful home visit to an absent employee is difficult to define due to various things, but one thing I advocate is having clearly defined goals for the visit before you go, such as making sure:

  • The worker is unable to leave the house e.g. due to broken bones, recovery after operation, agoraphobia
  • Terminal illness where a face to face meeting will help the individual
  • The illness is not infectious
  • There is no other alternative; and
  • Never unaccompanied

Always have a set procedure to go through before the visit including weighing up the resources required for the visit of:

  • Time
  • Travelling expenses
  • The occupational health professional being accompanied by a Manager or HR
  • What level of worker is visiting eg doctors are more expensive than a nurse, contractors more costly than a member of staff
  • Likely outcomes and/or risks

Prior to visit

Agree with the person and their family if necessary, the time of visit and who will be coming and why. Arrange a full risk assessment of the process to include provisions for lone working, animals present, allergies, cigarette smoke, aggressive family members, access and egress, parking, any equipment needed and paperwork that may need signing and length of visit.  Tie this up with checking ways to make sure that the visitors have arrived home safely after.

During the visit

HR or the Manager leads the discussions, explaining why you are there and the purpose of the visit. It may be impossible to discuss confidential health issues if there are other people in the room Consent procedures and paperwork for writing to the GP or Specialist may be necessary. The visitors are ‘guests’ in the employee’s home and could be asked to leave at any time.

Reflection on the Value of Home Visits

All the time and effort must reflect a benefit to either the employee or the employer because OH professional’s are an expensive resource.   So it’s worth considering whether it’s worth doing home visits in occupational health? Have a look at my video – The Value of Home Visits in Occupational Health which expands on this subject:

What is your view? Have you ever refused to do a home visit or has one gone horribly wrong? Fill in the comment box below for those trying to make up their minds on whether to do a home visit or not.

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