A North East Primary Care Trust has purchased a new automated safety system designed to improve the safety of its lone workers, particularly community based health professionals such as health visitors and community nurses.

County Durham Primary Care Trust has purchased a 12 month contract for Lookout Call. This lone worker safety system is based on mobile phone and computer technology and enables users to log where they are going and how long they may be on a visit and is updated during the day’s visits with enhanced coverage available if required.

A countdown system is used so if an update is not received at the expected time an alarm is triggered to highlight that a lone worker may be overdue. Users can also activate an emergency ‘panic’ alarm themselves and have the use of live recording facilities if needed.

Why Lookout Call? The roll-out of the system comes after an assessment of the effectiveness of its use in three locations across the county since 2005 and it replaces a less functional system.
The system also operates in Middlesbrough PCT area, which borders with County Durham, following a successful pilot phase.

Glyn Snowden, Risk Manager at County Durham PCT (Sedgefield area) said: “Our staff certainly feel safer with the new system – although in some areas mobile phone coverage is great, we ensure the workers are trained to adapt their visit time data input while in such an area and we also explain how the system can also be used in conjunction with land lines.”

The PCT has worked closely with lone workers to help allay any safety concerns they may have while on their visits and run an awareness programme including drop in sessions for lone workers to ask advice, and a resource booklet.

Director of Workforce and Corporate Development for County Durham PCT, Amanda Hume, said: “We take the issue of lone worker protection very seriously and under this scheme we are able to utilise the technology available for the benefit of our staff.”

The PCT has also contracted Care-link to act as responders for the system to ensure any incidents are responded to immediately. This resource has helped reassure the lone workers that action will be taken if the alarm is raised. The Care-link staff are available 24-7 and communicate regularly with team leaders and managers to monitor the effectiveness of the system.