Managing critical client incidents
Critical client incidents usually need a crisis response, incident management, coordination and consideration of a range of risks and sensitivities.
Community housing providers must ensure:
- the client's safety and well-being is the highest priority when an incident happens
- critical incidents are reported to Renewal SA as soon as possible
- critical incidents are correctly identified
- critical incidents are managed in a timely, effective and consistent manner
- all staff know their responsibilities following a critical client incident.
Critical client incidents
Critical client incidents may include:
- the unexpected death, serious injury or alleged assault, including physical, sexual abuse, sexual assault and indecent assault of a client, that happens as a result of, or during the delivery of services
- allegations of serious unlawful or criminal activity or conduct involving an employee, a subcontractor or volunteer that has caused, or has the potential to cause, serious harm to clients
- an incident where a client assaults or causes serious harm to others (including employees, volunteers or contractors), as a result of, or during the delivery of services
- a serious fire, natural disaster, accident or other incidents which are likely to result in:
- significant damage to property
- closure of premises
- prevention of service provision, or
- a significant threat to the health and safety of clients.
The Community Housing Agreement clause 27.3 states that critical client incidents within community housing are events that occur at or in relation to a project property, and have caused or are likely to cause a serious negative impact on the health, safety or well-being of a tenant or any person otherwise present at a project property.
How to report an incident
Community housing providers must verbally report all critical client incidents within community housing immediately to their Business Relations Specialist. An emailed report must be sent as soon as reasonably possible.
If you’re not sure if an incident will be considered critical, contact your Business Relations Specialist to report it anyway. The Department of Human Services (DHS) Incident Management Unit will assess the situation.
The information about the incident must include:
- time, date and location
- what staff members observed, what the clients, staff and others were doing at the time, what led up to the incident
- any action that was taken in response or related behaviour, including what was said before, during and after the incident
- details of the community housing provider and project property and tenant’s address
- a brief summary of what happened, including the relationship of any alleged perpetrator to the alleged victim.
- the immediate steps that were taken to address the issue
- current safety issues - ie is the client safe?
- coordination requirements - eg with other agencies.
See the Guide to determining reportable deaths to find out if the incident is a reportable death. If you’re not sure if a death is reportable or if it has already been reported, call the Coroner’s Office on 8204 0618. Failure to notify a reportable death is an offence.
Resources to use in reporting incidents
For consistency of reporting and response, it is strongly recommended that all community housing providers refer to the Critical Client Incidents - Resources and Guidelines that are available on the Department of Human Services website and can be modified to reflect your reporting and incident management structures.
Who decides if it's a critical incident
The Director, Department of Human Services Incident Management Unit is responsible for classifying critical client incidents, and will take into account:
- whether the death, serious injury or harm has an obvious and direct correlation to the services the person was receiving
- whether the standard of services provided have been or could be perceived to have been, a contributing factor
- the extent of harm that resulted or may result
- the likelihood that others may be affected
- if the death, serious injury or harm is due to unusual circumstances
- the duty of care expected of the SAHT or the community housing provider in relation to the incident.
Renewal SA is bound by DHS's Managing Critical Client Incident Policy and accompanying internal guidelines.