As new laws mark a turning point in protecting staff from attacks, the experts at Pinpoint discuss why there is still much more that needs to be done. We also look at first-hand accounts of how implementing personal attack systems has helped care managers to protect their staff and residents.

Pinpoint is a leading developer and manufacturer of personal attack alarm systems in the UK and its systems are installed in many workplace environments globally. Where the alarm sounds and who gets notified depends on the set-up and can be tailored to each facility and team. Not every incident will necessarily develop into a major crisis, especially if intervention happens early. Millennium Care, a specialised care home for people with learning difficulties and complex needs in North Yorkshire, has first-hand experience of the advantages of a personal attack alarm system.

Rachel Blackburn, Head of Care Homes for Millennium Care, explained why her team likes the Pinpoint system: “Thankfully, due to the reliability and speed of action of the Pinpoint System, most incidents now only require ‘help to de-escalate’ alarms.

According to a survey by UNISON, the number of incidents in which NHS personnel have been victims of attacks by patients is rising. In English NHS Trusts, the number of personal attacks in 2016-17 were up by nearly 10% compared to the year before. This is a five-year high. Nurses, paramedics and mental health staff suffer most of the attacks. The number of assaults on school staff also increased.

Now, only two years aſter maximum prison terms for assaulting emergency services personnel were increased to 12 months in England and Wales, a new justice reform has raised this to 24 months. This is a clear sign that more needs to be done to avoid serious attacks in the first place.

The Health and Safety Executive’s guidelines state clearly that it is the employers’ responsibility to take steps to safeguard employees. While many measures, like CCTV cameras and access controls, help to decrease the risk of violence in the facility overall, there will always be situations, where these are just not enough, and a more personalised protection system is needed.

Most health facilities now have a personal attack alarm system installed. Worn directly on the person, attached to a belt for example, a small device can be used to trigger an alarm. These devices come in different forms, like badges or in the shape of a cylinder no larger than a marker pen.

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“True emergency calls are much more infrequent now, but when those do happen, Pinpoint raises the alarm with a combination of audible alarms, graphic displays in strategic locations, plus flashing over-door lights in the corridor outside the room containing the emergency. All of which combine to ensure the crash-team is guided to the correct room within seconds. This results in less danger to our staff, less danger for our other residents and, in fact, because situations can be defused much more quickly, far less likelihood of the other residents themselves being disturbed.”

In addition to fielding the personal alarms, the system can be integrated with existing security products like CCTV and access control.

Martyn Perry, Head of Programme Management Office and Assistive Technology Strategy Lead at St. George’s Hospital in Stafford, could see the value of the technology quickly. He said: “We needed a staff alarm system that linked into existing security systems elsewhere in the hospital. Pinpoint’s technology can provide that.

“On the wards, the staff have control screens in the central ward office. We also have a paging system from a different provider, but Pinpoint had no problem linking their alarm system to that. Our previous system only worked with its own proprietary components so we couldn’t interlink it.”

It is unrealistic to think that assaults will cease to happen in some working environments, but the technology exists to help reduce the number of attacks and minimise the severity.

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