Is Grampa Packin’ Heat? And Other Safety Considerations for Advocates

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Is Grampa Packin’ Heat? And Other Safety Considerations for Advocates

Sometimes a conversation gets started in our APHA Forum that brings me up short. (One reason I SO love the Forum!) One of those conversations was kicked off this week by a member who posed a question: are other members asking potential new clients whether they have guns in their homes? I’m not a gun person, and I live in an area where we just don’t think about guns much, so I really didn’t understand the question at first…. until others chimed in. It’s about safety – which, of course, makes perfect sense. Many members followed up Marie’s question with comments that showed the comprehensive nature of those safety considerations:  that it’s not just about a client’s safety (might she ever try to commit suicide?) but about the advocate’s safety, too.  (Might the client get angry enough with his own perceptions or frustrations that he would take it out on his advocate?)  Further, it’s not just about guns. It’s about violence wrought of frustration and fear. A number of scenarios and solutions have been shared in the Forum. It got me thinking about the broader picture:  How many of us think about the potential dangers we are exposed to in our profession?  I think many of us ponder the threat of lawsuits…. But I’m not sure many of us think about real physical, safety-related threats – problems we can prevent up front if we are aware of them – which goes back to why I value the conversations we have in the Forum. It’s possible this particular conversation will save lives. Other dangers I can think of: One relates to keeping an advocate safe, (which I first wrote about on page 183 of The Health Advocate’s Start and Grow Your Own Practice Handbook). That is – don‘t ever meet a client for the first time in his or her home unless you take someone with you. Over the years we’ve heard stories about real estate agents who might be called to list a home, or to show a home, only to be attacked or violated (even killed) sometimes because the…


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