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Visiting clients in their homes is part of the job for most community nurses, social workers and probation officers, as well as for many other professionals in the health, social care and criminal justice sectors. In most cases, those home visits are carried out alone, with increased risk of abuse, harassment or even violence.

There are a number of simple precautions you can take to help ensure your personal safety. Here are our top 10 tips whether you’re a probation officer, substance misuse worker or part of the offender health team...

1. Do a risk assessment

Firstly, determine whether it's safe to make the home visit on your own by carrying out a risk assessment. If there's significant risk, take a colleague with you or schedule the visit at the same time as a professional from another agency, for example the police.

2. Keep your colleagues informed

Make sure your colleagues can easily access your appointment schedule and other details such as your mobile number and car registration, just in case they have to alert the emergency services.

3. Do your research

Check out the local area on Google Street View so that you know the quickest escape route. Find out as much as you can about the person you are visiting. Do they have a history of challenging or anti-social behaviour?

4. Prepare for a fast getaway

Park your car as close as possible in a well-lit location, but avoid driveways where you can be blocked in. Inside the person's home, give yourself a clear path to the exit door.

5. Carry an alarm

You should always carry a fully-charged personal safety device. Alternatively, there's a range of lone worker safety apps available for your smartphone.

6. Be wary of lifts

Avoid entering a lift with anyone who looks suspicious or makes you feel uncomfortable. If you're already in the lift with someone and the situation becomes threatening, get out at the next floor.

7. Be alert to danger

Before you enter the property, have a brief chat with the person you are visiting to assess their attitude and state of mind.

8. Dress sensibly

Don't wear high heels or other items of clothing which could restrict your ability to move quickly in an emergency.

9. Stay cool

If you feel threatened, try to stay calm and in control. Panicking or showing fear could inflame the situation or make you more vulnerable.

10. Protect your privacy

Never give out personal information such as your home address or places you frequent in your social life such as gyms, pubs or restaurants. Avoid talking about family members. Finally, it's important to always trust your instincts. If at any time during the visit you feel something is not right, don't delay and hope for the best. Make your excuses and leave right away.
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