By Leon Harris CPP
Published in INsite, December 2002/January 2003
It would be hard to believe that any person working in aged care would not support regular emergency evacuation and fire training for all staff, even putting aside the compliance requirement. However, under the same critical management umbrella, security awareness training for staff does not have the same universal support. The reality is that unless staff receive appropriate training in security awareness and procedures, and it is regularly and consistently reinforced, residents, staff and the facility will be vulnerable. Furthermore, security awareness training is understandably a key component of management’s duty of care compliance.
Reviews undertaken of facilities by our consultants identified that security related documentation is often glossed over by staff. Sometimes this reflects the quality of the documentation. When asked specific security questions on security procedures, staff are frequently unable to answer in a manner that reassures us of their understanding, let alone their capacity to deal with a security incident. Although in most cases staff receive some security related information during their induction, too often the educative process stops there. It is not unusual for staff not to receive any refresher training. Staff, especially those working evening and on weekends, should be given every opportunity to contribute to a safe work environment. For this to happen, a number of clearly defined processes need to be implemented. One of these critical processes is security awareness training. This training should be based on realistic security-risk scenarios. It should include the capability and use of security technology employed in the facility and the associated security response arrangements that are in place. The training (supported by appropriate policy and procedure documentation) should reflect the contemporary nature of the facility, rather than historical, i.e. information must be absolutely relevant. Should the facility have contractors on site such as catering, cleaning and security, they should also be incorporated in the security awareness program.
There are several important aspects to good training practice, one is consistency. That is, consistency across all shifts, across all departments and across all physical localities. Another is that information has to be in a format and language that the recipients can understand within the time constraints of their shifts. Training development and delivery needs to be sensitive to the diverse nature of the participants. Ideally, the security awareness knowledge and skills gained by staff should be transferable when they move to other departments, other shifts and other localities (including other facilities/employers). For the desired training outcomes to be achieved, it is important that trainers have specialised and comprehensive knowledge not only in security, but security in the aged care facility context.
A consistently rewarding feedback from clients for whom we have completed security awareness workshops is that staff become more motivated in contributing to the overall safety of their workplace. We believe that one of the reasons for this is that when staff are involved in security awareness workshops, they feel valued by management.
Operators who have taken security training very seriously have established a new benchmark for best ‘security’ practice for the aged care industry. There are many advantages in attaining best practice in security management. They relate to better protection of people, assets, stake holder confidence (e.g. residents, relatives of residents, staff and insurers) and enhance a facility’s defence position in litigation arising from any crime.
Leon Harris CPP, is the principal consultant for Harris Crime Prevention Services.
Harris Crime Prevention Services provides on an occasional basis articles by other Industry experts, such as: How Airports apply designing out crime principles