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Inadequate training putting patient safety at risk

Those who rely on homecare, such as the elderly and the disabled, are being put at an increased risk because the staff that care for them are not receiving adequate patient safety training, according to a UNISON study published in April.

The survey, which included the opinions of more than 1,000 care workers within the UK, found that staff feel increasingly pressured to carry out intimate tasks that would otherwise be carried out by a registered professional nurse.

Some of the tasks that some workers have been asked to carry out include peg feeding, administering medication and changing catheter bags. Many of those asked reported that they hadn’t received any training in regards to the procedures they had been asked to carry out.  

Adequate training for care staff is essential for patient safety. Inadequate training can lead to patients being left in serious discomfort and at an increased risk of infection. Worse yet, failure to train staff on the administering of medication can lead to fatal overdoses. For example, in 2013 an inquest into the deaths of patients at a care home in West Sussex found that patients were regularly given overdoses of medication.

The survey also found that many staff are being denied the opportunity to access important knowledge and the ability to improve and learn new skills. The survey found that of those asked:

  • 59% had not received any training on how to attach or change a convene catheter.
  • 45% stated they had not received any training on how to change a catheter bag.
  • 38% had not received any training on how to carry out peg feeding.

Most shockingly, almost a quarter of those asked, 24%, had received no training on administering medication. This is despite the fact that they were administering drugs such as insulin and liquid morphine on a daily basis.

As well as this, more than a quarter of those who said they worked with and cared for patients with dementia stated that they had not received any training in regards to how to care for and treat sufferers of dementia.

78% of those surveyed stated that they had asked for more training in regards to their role, to increase their skills and knowledge in order for themselves to be able to help them care for their patients better, however 49% of those said that they hadn’t received any.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “If homecare workers aren’t receiving adequate training to carry out complicated tasks, there could be fatal consequences for the people they care for.”
It is therefore vital that homecare workers are provided with the relevant patient safety training to ensure they have the correct skills and knowledge to enable them to carry out their job correctly and safely.

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