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1.33 Lone Working for Staff Policy


  1. Policy Statement
  2. Scope
  3. Procedure

1. Policy Statement

In the majority of cases, employees will be able to carry out lone or community working with minimal threat to themselves, visiting familiar individuals who have been vetted and are well known to the employee and the service. However, risks do still exist and this procedure aims to instruct all employees in how to minimise or avoid risks when working out of the office.

This policy focuses on preventative action and gives guidance to employees of the service about delivering services outside of the office environment.

Employees must accept responsibility for managing their own safety and must adhere to the requirements of these procedures.

It is Northumberland Fostering Services intention to ensure that employees are kept safe when they are carrying out their duties.

When working in an office the environment is regulated and controlled by Health & Safety Regulations and we acknowledge that when employees work outside the office they are entering into a less controlled environment. Our client group is diverse and sometimes vulnerable, and we seek to ensure that their rights are protected as well as our employees. This policy aims to raise awareness amongst employees, outline our commitment to trying to minimise risks and to encourage them to take an appropriate level of responsibility for their own personal safety.

2. Scope

This policy and procedure begins from the safe planning of the delivery of a service right through to the completion of the task and confirmation of the safe return of the worker.

It gives guidance to and state the requirements of employees of Northumberland Fostering Service when working alone, in order to promote their safety and welfare.

This is a service specific Lone Working Procedure and links to Northumberland County Council Health and Safety at work Policies.

3. Procedure

Before a visit to a foster carer’s home

The following procedure must be followed carefully to avoid unnecessary risk:

  • All employees must maintain their Outlook Calendar up to date, identifying the location of all appointments, meetings and home visits;
  • Employees must sign in and out of the building and clearly indicate on the ‘White Board’ there planned locations that day and return to the office if applicable;
  • Employees must be contactable on their work mobile phone during their work hours;
  • The administration team will maintain an up to date record of all employees work mobiles and emergency contact details;
  • All employees must carry their identification for all appointments;
  • Social Workers will be provided with a personal attack alarm on request.

Initial Visits and Viability Assessments

Before an initial visit is undertaken, consent to initial checks must be sought and undertaken.

Viability assessments of connected persons must always be undertaken with a social worker or other member of the fostering team, unless agreed with a manager, having regard to any known risk.

Managing risks and undertaking home visits

Where there are concerns regarding the potential conduct of a foster carer or other person the employee is required to meet, consideration should be given to:

  • Meeting at an office;
  • Undertake a joint visit;
  • Make specific arrangements with a colleague or manager to contact after any visit to confirm safe return by an agreed time. This is especially important for out of office hours visits were access to contact information is more limited.

In the event of a significant risk from an individual being identified, the council’s risk management procedures will be used to develop a risk management plan.

Employees should never enter a foster carer’s home uninvited and should not enter in the absence of the foster carer(s) or an adult member of the household.

An employee should respect any request made by a foster carer to leave their home immediately.

Where an employee feels uncomfortable, in the community, or within a foster carer’s home, they should leave the situation and remove themselves from any potential risks immediately.

Lone Working and Children / Young People

Working alone with young people in non-public spaces should be avoided where possible.

There will be occasions when it is necessary to work with a child alone in unsupervised circumstances.

Workers should consider the risks and vulnerabilities associated with the young person. Where possible another adult should be nearby and be made aware of the arrangements for the lone piece of work.

All lone working with a young person must be recorded carefully with the date and time for the commencement and end of the activity.

Dealing with Confrontation

Any serious threat or actual assault must be reported to a line manager and the police if appropriate.

If in the event of being faced with verbal abuse the employee should remain calm and avoid being drawn into an argument. As soon as possible a detailed, factual record should be made. 

If faced with the threat of physical or sexual assault the employee should try to remain calm and remove themselves from the situation urgently. An employee should not persist in their duties if it is putting them at increased risk. Any incident should be reported and fully documented in a detailed record and reported to managers and the police.

Record Keeping

In accordance with usual practice and procedures, detailed notes must be completed after each visit, or other contact, and entered on the foster carer’s ICS record.

Incidents where an employee feels they have been threatened or a victim of aggression must always be reported in writing to their line manager.

All employees and managers should learn from every experience. Employees identifying good practice in relation to risk management in general must promote this to their colleagues. This will formally occur through supervision and relevant training.