Creating a safe facility is a top priority when working with community members of all ages, but sometimes starting a conversation about safety can be difficult.
Safety can be a highly personal and charged topic. Having a conversation about how to improve your facility’s safety is necessary, but where do you start? How do you broach the topic, and how do you make sure the conversation is constructive?
Clarify Your Goal
Starting with a goal in mind is the key to having a clear and productive conversation. Identify which aspects of your facility safety need to be discussed. Do your childcare check in/out procedures need to be updated? Are there new regulations you need to follow to mitigate risk and remain compliant?
Whether you’re responding to an individual incident or discussing your general systems, starting with a goal in mind can keep your conversation on track. Confirm that everyone participating in the conversation has a clear understanding of the goal you want to address.
Factor in Different Perspectives
Your facility’s safety practices don’t just affect your members. Your staff is part of your community as well. They have a unique perspective: they’re familiar with the ins and outs of your facility and they have relationships with your members. Your staff may have valuable insights to contribute and they should be involved in your conversation.
Along with your staff, consider your other stakeholders as well. How do your members feel about your current practices and how would they feel about any changes? What about your board and your larger community?
Empathy is a valuable tool when considering the perspectives of your stakeholders. They can’t see everything you can, so consider how they may perceive your current and future practices.
Come Prepared to Ground Yourself
Emotions can sometimes run high when discussing a charged topic like safety. Take some time before your conversation to reflect on which aspects of the discussion might make you tense or anxious.
Once you’re aware of how the conversation might affect you, you can prepare ways to ground yourself. Mindfulness techniques like breath work can help you remain calm if the conversation becomes difficult. Find the techniques that work for you and come to the conversation prepared.
You can get the conversation started by asking questions about your current practices. What works, what doesn’t, and why?
When looking at your systems, ask yourself:
1.) How are we protecting children?
When you have children in your care, safety is your utmost priority. How are you maintaining the mental and physical safety of the children in your care? Do your practices meet compliance regulations?
2.) How do we screen members, staff, and volunteers?
Screening those who have access to your facility can provide an extra layer of protection, and is necessary when you’re caring for children. How often do you run screenings? Who can interact with children, and what additional screening measures do you have in place for them?
3.) What anti-theft measures do we have in place?
Health facilities can often be targets for theft. How do you secure the areas where your members and staff store their personal belongings? How are you protecting your equipment?
4.) How do we manage external access?
Analyze every external door and access point to your facility. Who has access to your facility, and do you control which doors they can use? How do you verify someone’s identity once they enter your facility?
5.) How do we control internal flow?
Your members shouldn’t have access to every room in your facility. Are there any areas that are staff-only or age-restricted? How are you maintaining those boundaries?
6.) How are we communicating our safety procedures to our stakeholders?
Your stakeholders need to know what steps you’re taking to create a safer environment. How are you sharing that information with them? Are there any practices they aren’t aware of?
Understanding your current safety systems is the first step in the conversation. Consider how your current practices relate to your goal. What are you doing well and how can you improve?
Create a Plan
Participating in this conversation shows your stakeholders that you care about their safety. They engaged with you on a highly personal topic. You can demonstrate your commitment to safety by following through with an actionable plan. Creating a roadmap that reflects your conversation will show your stakeholders that their voices were heard.
Safety can be a difficult topic to discuss, but approaching the conversation with empathy and an open mind can make your stakeholders feel more confident.
In honor of National Safety Month, we’ll be discussing how to use Childcare Attendance Tracking and Daxko Facility Access to keep children safe and maintain a secure building. To learn more, join our live discussion on June 23, 2022 at 2:00 PM Central Time.