The Core Study


Case study: lone worker devices

The West Suffolk HTT are currently involved with a Trust pilot project looking at lone worker devices for community working. The geographical area of the Trust covers many rural areas where mobile phone reception is not reliable. Whilst the Trust has a lone worker policy this focuses on knowing where staff are and what risks may be associated with the individual receiving a service rather than how staff would seek support or help in a difficult situation. 

It has been highlighted that if a member of staff needed to call assistance whilst in the community there are 2 potential problems. One is the lack of mobile phone service and the second is that there may be a need to discretely call for assistance so not to antagonise the situation further. 

The Trust contacted several different suppliers of devices and are currently trialling 2 favoured devices. The HTT have taken part in the pilot due to the acute nature of service they deliver. Service Users behaviour can often be unpredictable whilst acutely unwell and therefore staff may find themselves at unexpected risk. The 2 devices trialled both had advantages and disadvantages. The first device was the more discrete option as you can slot it alongside your I.D badge. However it was unclear at times whether staff had succeeded in activating it prior to entering the service users home. It worked by alerting a call centre that you had entered a property.  The second device was easier to use however more bulky in appearance making it less discrete.  Staff have reported feeling more confident at seeing service users at home knowing that they have a device they can call for help on however there needs to be some refinement of the devices to make them fit for purpose. 

The first device was useless as it was difficult to know if the device was even turned on.  The second device was more useful but is bulky.  I could see staff leaving it at home or in their cars due to its bulk.  If the second device was as light and transportable as the first, it would be ideal for our purpose.  

The 1st unit 


• It did not clearly show that it was on or off after a period of time the led lights did not function unless you do the start up process again.

• Battery life was poor 

• The Buttons were very hard to press and at times I did not know if I would end up breaking them with the amount of force used

• Not user friendly


• The unit looking like a card holder made it discreet when out in the community 

The 2nd unit


• Not discreet and very bulky when using the badge holder and this came across as obvious to the clients

• It easily can set off an emergency by mistake due to the weak buttons (when in your bag, pocket etc)


• More user friendly and easier to understand how to use

• With the added feature of phone calling your base is useful