Most people understand that Safeguarding is to prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect to anyone who is vulnerable. This includes enabling people to make their own informed choices and have control of their own lives versus someone else making decisions for them. All health and social care sectors have safeguarding systems and training in place and regulatory bodies such as CQC are reportable agencies and will act if required. We have all seen documentaries on television of abuse. The emergency services will also have strict safeguarding procedures in place but do the public know or are they aware of safeguarding systems are about?
During COVID-19 many of us have been contained in Lockdown and this has raised many potential safeguarding issues. We hear the terminology “safeguarding “many times in our lives but do we really know what it means? To many it is vague, nebulous word, but does it have any shape? And what does “safeguarding “actually do ?
Most people understand that it is to prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect to anyone who is vulnerable, this includes enabling people to make their own informed choices and have control of their own lives versus someone else making decisions for them. All health and social care sectors have safeguarding and training systems in place and regulatory bodies such as CQC are reportable agencies and will take action if required We have all seen documentaries on television of abuse. The police will also have strict safeguarding procedures in place. But do the public know or are they aware of safeguarding systems that are in place to protect the general public?
The main categories of abuse are:
2. Sexual abuse.
This includes rape, sexual assault or sexual acts which have not been given consent or pressure to coerce someone to consenting to a sexual act.
3. Psychological abuse.
This can include emotional abuse, threats, or harm from abandonment deprivation of contact, humiliation blaming and controlling behaviour intimidation coercion harassment verbal abuse and isolation .
This involves human trafficking. This is whereby women or children are being brought into a situation of exploitation through the use of violence deception or coercion to work against their will. It may be for reasons of forced prostitution, forced Labour, forced begging, forced criminality, domestic servitude, forced marriage or forced organ removal.
3. Financial or material abuse.
This includes theft, fraud, exploitation, coercion in relation to financial affairs such as wills properties, inheritance and financial transactions, misuse or misappropriation of property possessions or benefit
4. Self Neglect.
This covers a wide range of behaviour related to personal hygiene health or environment such as hoarding
5. Domestic Violence.
This can mean any incident of threatening behaviour such as violence towards family members, transgender or homophobic violence and whilst we recognise that domestic violence is of a physical scenario it can also include emotional abuse including honour crimes which also come into this frame .
6. Organisational Abuse.
This can include harassment, bullying, a toxic work culture, undermining behaviour at your place of work, poor care of staff health a mental well being
These categories will trigger alarms in all of us as we will all have a story to tell that will relate to at least one of these scenarios’ categories, however sometimes it is easier to bury our heads in the sand. If you work in the health and care sector it is regarded as a duty of care to safeguard vulnerable people and people in your care and strict reporting systems and training are in place.
But supposing we do not work in these areas? what do we do? During lockdown alcohol drinking has increased in the home, alongside domestic violence which is regularly reported on the news. It could be presumed that people may become frustrated when living closely with others in confined spaces and may lash out at those we are living with .Children are not attending school therefore teachers are not witnessing bruising or any signs of malnutrition Older people may be left on their own with nobody visiting them possibly leading to a fatality. If one has a concern or witnesses an incident of abuse it must be reported. One could add that one has a possible moral duty to report a concern. If anyone thinks a venerable adult or child is at risk of immediate significant harm one should use 999 to call the emergency services .
So how to whom do we report our concerns? if one works in a health and social care setting then firstly it should be reported to your line manager. it is important that you log who you reported your concern to, date, time, and the response you received This facilitates a log if your inquiry needs to go further. You may need to report your concern to an adult or child local authority safeguarding team. You can Google the phone numbers for the local authority social services and request to speak to someone in the safeguarding teams. These consists of adult or child specialist social workers. You maybe then asked to complete a specific form and you may be asked questions on the form such as :
- Details of the name and address of the person at risk
- Your own name and contact details.
- A small report about the safeguarding concern with dates, times and descriptions of the alleged abuse
- Provide any details of harm or physical injury if appropriate.
- Provide details of any other incidents that you may be aware of.
The social services team will log your concern and will investigate. It may appear daunting, but you will be supported by the team.
During this pandemic it is important that we “look out for each other” Whether you are a family member, volunteer, health, or social care worker steps can be taken to protect others, especially the vulnerable. Here are some websites that you can report to or find further information on safeguarding.
www.gov.uk /government publications/safeguarding
www. Skills for care.org.uk safeguarding
www.cqc.org.uk/safegaurding (Care Quality Commission)
https://www.ncdv.org.uk/ National Centre for Domestic Violenc.
SABINA KELLY RN Ba (Hons) B.Sc.(Hons)