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Safeguarding is essential for protecting vulnerable adults. However, you need robust, thorough safeguarding policies in every health and social care facility to care effectively. This guide explains what your policies should include and how you can create them.
What is Safeguarding?
Safeguarding means protecting vulnerable people from abuse, harm and neglect. Often, people are moved into health and social care as they cannot make decisions about their well-being and health. The care provider must implement policies to support and protect these individuals so they can live happily.
Why Safeguarding Policies Are Vital in Health and Social Care
With large numbers of carers, safeguarding policies are essential to regulate the care and protection that vulnerable people receive. If multiple authorities and care providers safeguard one person at different times, uniform, tracked procedures ensure their needs are met and can be reviewed if anything goes wrong.
Using the 6 Safeguarding Principles to Create Policies
- Empowerment – allowing vulnerable people to make as many decisions about their life as possible
- Prevention – taking measures to eliminate safeguarding risks
- Proportionality – restricting your care measures to combat issues without removing an individual’s agency
- Protection – protecting those in need from abuse, harm and neglect
- Partnership – working with every individual and authority that can provide care
- Accountability – monitoring and recording every care measure to track your progress and review processes if things go wrong
Using these principles as the foundation of your safeguarding policies ensures you always provide excellent care. Specify them and where they apply so that carers can refer to and use them when looking after vulnerable people.
How to Use Your Policy to Safeguard Effectively
Once you have created a safeguarding policy, you must follow it whenever safeguarding issues arise. Here is an example of a care home doing that:
Dorothy is an elderly woman living in a care home. She has a lot of independence and good mental health for her age. However, her limited mobility and mild dementia mean she occasionally needs support. Typically, she is very social with other residents, carers and visitors.
Spotting an Issue
Recently, staff have noticed a slight change in Dorothy’s behaviour. She has been short with them and easily irritated by those around her. It is out of character for her.
Following the safeguarding policy, one staff member reports it to the care home management team.
Investigating the Issue
The management team arranges a discussion with Dorothy to ask whether anything triggered her new behaviour, as dictated by the safeguarding policy. This empowerment is vital; it allows Dorothy to work with staff and play a central role in her care.
She tells the manager that she is upset by her visitors. Lately, she has seen an old acquaintance who started kind and attentive but then began asking for money and would get frustrated with her if she forgot it.
The care home manager explains to Dorothy that this event is a safeguarding issue and she can choose how they resolved it. They ask her to record the details of the conversation and alert her carers if it occurs again. Then she can decide how she wants the care home to handle it. Finally, the manager explains that they must report the risk to the local care authorities, who can provide additional support.
From there, the local authority sends an adult safeguarding expert to meet Dorothy and explain how she can handle these conversations. It gives her the skills to combat the issue without unnecessary intervention from the care home or local authority.
Any council employee or carer working with Dorothy must represent her interests during the process. They will meet with the concerned parties, and then the local authority with review their discussions to ensure their success.
Dorothy received everything she needed to protect her finances and end the conversations. She was empowered as she could take ownership and resolve her own issues and is now back to her usual social self.
Who is Responsible for Safeguarding Policies?
The Care Act defines the responsibilities of local authorities to create and implement safeguarding policies. However, every care provider has a safeguarding duty toward those they protect.
Local councils must regulate care in their jurisdiction and investigate and respond to safeguarding issues. They also must:
- Make essential arrangements to protect vulnerable people
- Create safeguarding policies covering care plans and additional knowledge, training or facilities required for adequate support
- Conduct a safeguarding review if the adult cannot do so themselves
- Work with all their care partners to deliver the best support
- Conduct inquiries into any safeguarding issues, update policies if required and alert the police if a crime has been committed
An advocate is an experienced individual provided by the local authority that will listen to vulnerable people’s concerns and speak on their behalf to represent their wishes. They will also help the vulnerable person understand and wield their legal rights so they can protect themselves.
Every local council in the UK must have a safeguarding board responsible for conducting safeguarding reviews and protecting adults in their jurisdiction. It should consist of:
- The local clinical trust
- A local senior police officer
- The local authority
Vulnerable people move into care homes and facilities for protection and support as their health and decision-making capacity may be faltering. Under the Care Act, every care home must have a safeguarding policy in place in line with the guidance provided by their local authority.
Every NHS Trust and facility has a safeguarding policy to protect those in their care. For example, a vulnerable person like a child may arrive at the hospital with an injury that their accompanying adult person claims is an accident. The clinic staff must identify and report this injury as a potential safeguarding issue as it may have been deliberate.
Friends and family often support health and social care services to safeguard vulnerable people. They must be included in the safeguarding policy and refer to it when delivering care.
Laws Regulating Safeguarding Policies
The most important legislation regarding safeguarding policies in health and social care is the Care Act 2014. As we have previously covered, it defines the responsibilities and commitments of every safeguarding authority and the framework they should follow to protect vulnerable adults.
However, you should also know the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, as this policy outlines the vetting process for safe recruitment.
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What should a safeguarding policy include?
A safeguarding policy should cover everything an organisation does to protect vulnerable individuals. It must outline the responsibilities of every carer and authority so that they can refer to it and maintain accountability.
What are the six safeguarding principles in health and social care?
The six principles of safeguarding are:
What does safeguarding in health and social care look like?
Safeguarding in health and social care may involve an elderly person getting coerced into lending money to relatives. The carers will meet with the vulnerable person to discuss the situation and ask them how they want to resolve it.
Then the local authority will provide training so that the elderly person has the necessary skills to resolve the problem, giving them independence whilst protecting their interests.