Visiting Nurse Services (VNS) in Westchester, a New York organization providing home health care services, identified a growing need for enhanced personal safety for their home care workers.
Home health care providers regularly go into patients’ homes, sometimes late at night, without knowing what risks might lie ahead. They may have to deal with patients or family members with mental health issues, or get caught in the crossfire of family tensions.
For home care workers, “their workplace is the home of the patient—inside other peoples’ residences,” said POM Safe Co-Founder Andrew Leahy. This is a stark contrast from a hospital setting, where security personnel and cameras can be found at every turn.
From the first meeting with the clinical leadership team at VNS Westchester, “everyone had a story about feeling uneasy either in a home or in an unfamiliar neighborhood,” Leahy said.
This is unfortunately a common story among home health care workers. Over the course of a year, 57% of nurses experienced verbal abuse and 11% faced physical abuse. Some agencies even reported daily assaults on their staff.
With the reality of these dangers in mind, VNS Westchester was determined to find a safety measure that could provide immediate assistance and peace of mind to their employees.
When Timothy Leddy, president and CEO of VNS Westchester, discovered POM Safe‘s innovative device, he immediately recognized the potential for it to help keep his home care workers safe.
POM Safe is a compact, portable device that attaches to a keychain or ID badge or can be tucked into a purse or pocket.
VNS Westchester kicked off a partnership with POM Safe with a pilot program of 25 home care workers.
“With the POM security device, we’re taking our staff safety program to the next level by embracing rapid response technology that will connect them to the critical aid they need when they need it.”
Providing the POM device demonstrates VNS’s commitment to staff safety, and Leddy was hopeful that the majority of staff would take advantage of the benefit.
“It’s a virtual escort for traveling places, from Dutchess County and upstate all the way to the Bronx,” Leddy said. “We decided this coming January to offer it to all field-based staff free of charge.”
The success of the pilot program was undeniable. The device’s discreet nature and efficient connection to support services offered a virtual escort for staff traveling across varied locations.
VNS registered nurse Krzysztof Dragan highlighted the device’s impact: “I’m fortunate that I haven’t had to use the POM yet, but having it on my key chain gives me tremendous peace of mind at all times—during and after work hours.
“Home care can be an unpredictable environment. You don’t know what you’ll find when you walk through the door of a patient’s home, by yourself, in terms of the behavior of patients, family members or others who may be present. The POM is like a Life Alert button for the home care worker. I know I can push a button and help will be on the way.”
In addition to garnering national media attention in publications such as Crain’s New York, the initiative is praised by the Home Care Association of New York State and is set to be featured at the national level as a part of the Blueprint for Excellence initiative.
After receiving an overwhelmingly positive response, VNS Westchester committed to providing the POM device to over 200 field-based staff at no cost.
They’re also rolling out the device as an employee benefit for non-field-based staff and family members.
This decision underscores VNS Westchester’s prioritization of staff welfare and their proactive approach to utilizing technology for safety.
The case of VNS Westchester has successfully elevated the standard of personal safety for home care workers, and serves as a beacon for other healthcare providers