Leading Housing Association Optivo take the welfare of their lone workers seriously and as such have issued 200 MySOS personal safety devices across their community-based employees.

Working on your own, in the community can pose a multitude of problems; what happens if you suffer an accident, are injured, or fall seriously ill and there’s no-one to witness it?

What happens if you’re visiting someone’s home and they become abusive and violent? What if they hold you against your will… overpower you… become unstable? Imagine being held hostage with no way to call for backup. It’s a truly terrifying and distressing situation. Does this sound far-fetched? Unfortunately, these are commonplace risks that face anyone lone working within their local community.

Take the story of Jemma Rixon, a 20-year old care worker who, whilst working alone, broke her spine after jumping out of a bathroom window to escape a schizophrenic resident who had smashed through a wall with a chair to attack her. What about Ashleigh Ewing, a 22-year old mental health worker who was sent by her employer, alone, to visit Ronald Dixon? Her body was only found in his flat when Dixon turned himself into the authorities. Ashleigh had been stabbed 39 times.

Both Jemma and Ashleigh were working alone without any suitable provision to call for help in an emergency. Both were left to fend for themselves in the face of incredible violence and extreme stress. Think this is rare? Data gathered from 198 councils and 41 housing associations show there were 2,367 physical and verbal assaults on housing workers in 2015. What’s more, 1 in 10 housing workers have been taken hostage at some point in their career.

Thankfully, leading housing association Optivo fully understands the importance of lone worker protection and ensures that any of their community-based staff are fully equipped with the latest personal safety innovations. By issuing their staff with state-of-the-art keyfob-sized MySOS personal safety alarms, help is only a finger’s touch away.

Optivo, part of the G15 – made up of the 15 largest housing associations in London – is responsible for 28,000 homes across the region. As such, they’ve turned to Peoplesafe to ensure their 200+ lone workers are enabled with the small, discreet alarm.

It’s proven in use too; a member of their team had to utilise Peoplesafe’s 24/7 emergency service when experiencing a potentially-threatening situation. By pressing the SOS button on the personal alarm, the correct level of response was summoned and backup arrived within minutes, helping to diffuse a difficult situation. That’s the beauty of Peoplesafe; a call via the 999 service is reactive to a hostile situation. With Peoplesafe, it’s proactive. Users can notify us in advance if they are entering a dangerous or threatening situation. Alarm Controllers will stay connected until they’re satisfied that the lone worker is safe or will summon an emergency response should matters escalate.

Patricia Smith, Scheme Manager for Sheltered Housing at Optivo is one such employee who finds herself out in the community. “We’re frontline staff going out and about in the community on our own”, comments Patricia. The Peoplesafe device enables us to do this with confidence, as we are given a greater sense of security and wellbeing, knowing that there is a person at the other end and not a recording.

Once connected to Peoplesafe, users will find themselves being monitored by highly-trained, professional Alarm Controllers at the purpose-built Alarm Receiving Centre. Our Alarm Controllers are adept at dealing with a multitude of life-threatening scenarios.

A feeling of desperation in a crisis is often nullified by the very fact that the user knows someone is there for them. Alarm Controllers instantly know who the user is and where they are, as pinpointed on a GPS-based map. Reassurance comes from the fact that Controllers are listening in to what’s happening, advising and assisting, or sending help to their exact location… fast!

“The most impressive part for me is it knowing exactly where you are when needed. It’s brilliant,” adds Patricia.

“I would recommend Peoplesafe to anyone whether in an organisation or independent, as I feel it has become an essential tool to enable me to do my job with confidence.”
Patricia Smith, Scheme Managers for Sheltered Housing

And that’s the key – being able to confidently carry out your work, despite being alone, knowing someone is there, at any time, to come to your rescue the moment you need it.

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