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Duty of Care Policy

Intention

To ensure the safety and freedom from harm of all service users and staff and to provide clear direction in regards to the supports that are provided.

To manage or eliminate risk.

Policy

Engedi Inc aims to ensure that nobody associated with the organisation suffers harm or loss either physically, financially, psychologically or sexually, due to any action, or inaction by the organisation and its employees. Any act that has reasonably foreseeable consequences indicates a breach of duty of care and could constitute legal action for negligence.

Scope

This policy applies to all staff and volunteers of Engedi Inc.

Duty of care is a legal concept meaning the responsibility to take reasonable care to avoid causing harm to another person. A duty of care exists when it could reasonably be expected that a person's actions, or failure to act, might cause injury to another person.
Duty of care is also concerned with ensuring people are treated with respect and dignity, in society

What is Reasonable Care? The law requires professionals to take all reasonable care in carrying out their work and ensure that appropriate standards of care are met.
Reasonable care is care balanced against other, sometimes competing, responsibilities, such as:
The safety of other people (other service users, workers, yourself etc)
Privacy and confidentiality
The needs of service users (eg. recreation, socialisation, opportunities to develop skills, self-responsibility and decision making)

Duty of care must be balanced with dignity of risk. Dignity of Risk is a term used to describe the right of individuals to choose to take some risk in engaging in life experiences. It is important not to overprotect service users in a way that unnecessarily restricts opportunities to enjoy life and a balance, based on planning and commonsense, should be met to ensure duty of care and dignity of risk. The appropriate standard of care is assessed on what action a reasonable person would take in a particular situation. Each situation (and each service user) is different and staff must assess the situation individually and act accordingly. What is considered reasonable will depend on all the circumstances. What is reasonable in one situation will not necessarily be reasonable in another.
Each situation and individual circumstanced must be assessed separately and independently.
Duty of care is breached by failing to do what is reasonable or by doing something unreasonable that results in harm, loss or injury to another. This can be physical harm, economic loss or psychological trauma.

Principles and Procedures
Principle 1:
The initial step when determining duty of care involves identifying the risks.
Procedures:
1.1 Staff must take steps to identify the risks associated with the situation. This includes considering any reasonably likely harmful effects of your actions and inactions. This is done through completion of risk assessments.
1.2 Staff need to use their professional skills and experience to decide on the most reasonable action in a particular situation. Some factors to consider are: 
The risks of harm and the likelihood of the risks occurring
The sorts of injuries that may occur, and how serious they are
Precautions which should be taken
The importance of the particular activity which involves risks
Any statutory requirements
Current professional standards about the issue
Any other factors relevant to a particular situation must also be considered
1.3 Where possible, decisions should be discussed with the Coordinator or Manager to determine the most appropriate decision and best course of action.
1.4 Staff are required to consider the guidelines of Least Restrictive Practice
when identifying potential harm and/or injury associated with the situation.
Avoiding harm and/or injury involves:
Determining when harm or injury is foreseeable
Taking account of the seriousness of the potential harm or injury
Assessing risks from the other person's perspective
Recognising that some risks are reasonable
Not actively harming or injuring the other person
Avoiding discrimination and overly restrictive option/s
Recognising when people are at risk of injury from others
Supporting people to confront risks safely
Safeguarding others from harm or injury
Maintaining confidentiality

Principle 2:
All staff and volunteers will be provided with induction, orientation and training relevant to their position and support needs of the individual being supported.
Procedures:
2.1 All Engedi Inc staff and volunteers involved in supporting clients will at all times provide a standard of care that is reasonable and consistent with the policies and procedures outlined in the Engedi Inc Policy Manual and the Individual Support Plan.
2.2 In providing support to service users, Engedi Inc staff and volunteers must not perform duties or tasks which require specific qualifications or training that they do not have. In the instance where staff are asked to perform a task that they have not been given training in, staff must notify the Coordinator. Relevant training will be scheduled and the staff person’s competence will be assessed. Documentation verifying successful completion of the training will be placed on the staff person’s personnel file.

Principle 3:
Identified risks and hazards associated with a particular activity / situation will be appropriately followed up.

Procedures:
3.1 Staff, volunteers and contractors will promptly report concerns about the safety of service users (including environmental hazards) to the Coordinator so that appropriate action can be taken
3.2 Staff and volunteers are to complete a WPH&S report form / maintenance request form, a copy of these forms are to be forwarded to the office within 24 hours.
3.3 Staff and volunteers are expected to adhere to the principles and procedures outlined in the Risk Management Policy.

Principle 4:
People with disabilities have the same human rights as people without disabilities and should be empowered to exercise their rights to make informed choices and have control over their lives regardless of their age or origin, nature, type or degree of the disability.
Procedures
4.1 Service users will be encouraged to make their own decisions regarding their care at all times. This may require the support of other significant people (e.g family or friends) on an informal basis or more formally through case planning / conferencing with other professionals (eg. GP, Community nurse).

Principle 5:
Staff and volunteers must follow instructions and strategies, information and training that have been provided by Engedi Inc regarding ensuring duty of care whilst working in environments where management of harmful behaviour is required.
Procedures:
5.1 In managing aggressive or threatening behaviour employees and volunteers will first ensure their own safety and the safety of others.
5.2 No punitive action (including restraint) will be taken.
Staff must report all incidents to the Coordinator. All incidents are investigated and monitored and where possible measures put in place to ensure the incidents do not occur again. This is done by changes to policy and procedures, additional training or adjustment to individual plans and programming. Summary The principle of duty of care is that you have an obligation to avoid acts or omissions, which could be reasonably foreseen to injure or harm other people. This means that you must anticipate risks for your clients and take care to prevent them coming to harm. Remember that harm encompasses both physical and emotional harm.

Everyone in the workplace has the responsibility to take all practical and reasonable steps- ‘duty of care -’ to ensure that they are protecting the health and safety of both themselves and their work colleagues.


References:

  • NDIS Practise Standards
  • National Disability Service standards
  • Disability Services Act (2006)
  • Racial Discrimination Act (1975)
  • Disability Discrimination Act (1992)
  • Qld Anti-Discrimination Act (1991)
  • National Disability Insurance Scheme Act (2013)
  • United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with disabilities (2006) WHS Act 2011