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What Is Safeguarding in Care?

Updated: Apr 19

Carer comforting vulnerable adult.

Safeguarding in care is required to protect children, young people, adults and vulnerable adults’ health, wellbeing and their human rights; enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect. 


 

In this Article:



 

The Role of Safeguarding


This is an essential part of the care service to ensure everyone receives the highest standard of health care at all times.


All members of staff, whether they work in a care home, children’s home, hospital or community role that is private, public or a non profit organisation, are responsible for providing safeguarding to people that are at risk of neglect or abuse.


 

The Duty of Care Definition

 

In the workplace, the duty of care definition involves being responsible for the health, safety and wellbeing of others. It means that you have a legal obligation to protect people that are in your care. For example, a teacher has a duty of care to protect their students and a GP has a duty of care to protect their patients. There will be practices in place that must be followed to ensure that anyone employed in the health and social care sector has a legal duty of care to keep people safe.


If the practices aren’t put into place correctly, not regularly assessed or there is a breach, this can cause harm to the people it is supposed to keep safe and may also lead to legal consequences for the business or individual staff member.


 

The Principles of Safeguarding

 

There are six principles of safeguarding that the Department of Health first brought in, in 2011 which are now part of the Care Act. These provide clear instructions to ensure professionals uphold the standard to keeping others safe.


  1. Protection Provide representation and support for the people most in need, including children, young people and vulnerable adults.

  2. Empowerment Empower people to be able to make their own decisions by providing support, encouragement and as much freedom as possible.

  3. Prevention Prevention of harm, neglect and abuse is an essential aspect of safeguarding and action should be taken before this happens. Planning and foresight are highly advised to help identify and avoid risks before they become a problem.

  4. Accountability In terms of safeguarding, accountability means named employees are most responsible but all employees must do their part. All employees are accountable for their actions and safeguarding processes must be documented with clear responsibilities held.

  5. Proportionality Each case is different and so proportionality ensures that the investigation and intervention occurs with the least amount of intrusion possible so as not to affect the individual.

  6. Partnerships Safeguarding is much more effective when partnerships and relationships are involved to create a communal process. A multi agency approach is also used in which different organisations work together and collaborate to bring change.

 

 

Home carer making the bed

Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006

 

“An Act to make provision in connection with the protection of children and vulnerable adults.”


The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups act 2006 provides a system in which employers and

organisations can check the suitability of potential employees when working with children or vulnerable adults. The Act aims to prevent unsuitable employees from gaining work with these groups and involves the Vetting and Barring schemes also known as the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).

The DBS maintains a children’s barred list and a vulnerable adults barred list in which individuals can be placed on one or both lists. For people to be placed on either list and therefore be barred from working with either group, they must have a conviction or caution which suggests the individual poses a risk to cause future harm.

 

 

What Constitutes Harm?

 

In the Care Act 2014, harm is defined as 10 types of abuse that cause harmful conduct including:


  1. Physical

  2. Psychological

  3. Sexual

  4. Financial

  5. Discrimination

  6. Organisational

  7. Domestic violence

  8. Modern slavery

  9. Neglect

  10. Self neglect / self harm


Children and vulnerable adults who require support and care are at risk of harm, abuse or neglect as they are unable to protect themselves.

 

 

What is Safeguarding in Care Homes?

 

Safeguarding in care homes is a vital part of the protection of vulnerable adults and uses the guidance of the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to protect the health, wellbeing and human rights and making sure they are safe from harm, neglect or abuse.


Examples of assessments include:


  • The beds are always clean and comfortable and all equipment is used correctly and is of a high standard.

  • Minimising the potential for falls.

  • Managing and monitoring the drugs and other substances.

  • Controlling a safe environment that includes hot water, hot substances and hot surfaces.

  • Preventing the spread of disease and infection by incorporating high standards of hygiene.

  • Response to aggressive and challenging behaviour. 


 

Why is Safeguarding Important?

 

Safeguarding is hugely important as it provides a safe space for individuals who are at risk of harm. Carers and others in a similar role that involves looking after vulnerable people have a responsibility to provide protection and prevent risk to ensure residents and patients are healthy and safe.


Plans, assessments and training should be provided in the workplace to ensure safeguarding policies are correctly in place in all organisations, especially those that work with children and vulnerable adults. Any signs of neglect or abuse must be reported as it is important that everyone is cared for and kept safe. 


 

Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults


a man with downsyndrome on a laptop

The adults who have a higher risk of being unable to protect themselves, whether due to physical or mental disabilities, illnesses or their age require the support and protection that comes with the policies included in the safeguarding of vulnerable adults. This provides a range of measures to help prevent harm, neglect or abuse and focuses on the individual’s health and wellbeing.


Abuse can happen anywhere, at work, at the hospital, at home or in a care home and these safeguarding measures are put into place to reduce the risk and prevent vulnerable adults from facing abuse or neglect in what should be a safe space.

 

Examples of How to Safeguard Adults

 

There are various steps to take to help safeguard a vulnerable adult.


  1. Make sure the environment is a safe space and that the adults feel that their rights are respected.

  2. Review and carry out assessments in the safeguarding plan regularly to ensure they receive the suitable support and protection.

  3. Educate the adults and people around them including family and friends to help them recognise signs of abuse and how to report it to the appropriate organisations.

  4. Make sure the vulnerable adults know about their access to certain services such as counselling and medical care for help.

  5. Make yourself aware of the possible signs of abuse or harm, such as a change in behaviour or the appearance of physical injuries. 


 

Proportionality in Safeguarding

 

As first introduced in the six principles of safeguarding, proportionality means the least amount of intrusion possible should be used depending on the risk and the severity of the case. This takes the vulnerable person and their needs into account to ensure no further harm or abuse is caused.


A low risk case should use minimal intrusion as more action taken can actually cause more harm and make the person involved feel more vulnerable. However, a serious case will require more intrusion in regards to an investigation and the appropriate action being taken.


 

 

What Happens When You Get Reported to Safeguarding?

 

There are various steps taken when a safeguarding report is made.


The individual can raise a concern with a carer, teacher, social worker or the police and it will be dealt with by the appropriate social care using these steps:


  1. All relevant information is collected and documented accurately, while also looking at any previous records before a decision is made to continue with the enquiry or not.

  2. This information may then be shared with other professionals such as a social worker or the police if deemed necessary to protect the concerned individual.

  3. Consent is required from the person in involves before the enquiry is passed on, however, if other people are at risk then consent will not be needed.

  4. If there is an immediate risk, actions should be taken straight away which may include the suspension of the individual.

  5. There will then be a full investigation which may be passed on to another organisation or the police. You will be kept up to date with the progress of the report. If sufficient evidence is found, your employer has a legal duty of care to involve the DBS.

 

 

a link to a person-centred care

a link to a health & safety in a care setting course

 

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