Safeguarding is the process, procedures, policies and activities that ensure that adults who are classed as being vulnerable are at less risk from harm, ill-treatment, neglect or abuse. It not only helps to ensure that vulnerable adults are not harmed by someone else who knows what they are doing is wrong, but also those who have become victims of abuse or neglect from someone who simply is not aware that what they are doing and the way that they are acting is causing harm to the vulnerable adult.
It is the responsibility of everyone who works with, around or takes care of the person who is vulnerable to be aware of safeguarding and how they can ensure that the person is safe. However, the over-arching responsibility lies with the Local Authority that covers the area that the vulnerable person lives in.
They are in charge of overseeing the processes, the procedures and of course ensuring that all of the relevant agencies communicate fully to ensure that those who are most vulnerable are protected.
All of these, if they are suspected should be investigated fully to ensure that they are not the case and that the vulnerable person is safe from harm.
There are a number of signs that could indicate that a vulnerable adult is at risk of being harmed or abused. Of course, these can vary between people and really depends on what they are normally like.
Some of the main signs that someone is at risk of harm, or who is currently a victim include:
If you are concerned about the safety of an adult who has been identified as being vulnerable then you should ensure that you follow the safeguarding process that relates to your situation. If you work within care, this may be the policy that is set out by your employer.
However, if you are someone who is not working with the adult, but instead has a concern about them, then you should speak to your Local Authority to raise this. They can then investigate your concerns further and make sure that they are able to offer the help that is required to the individual and keep them as safe as possible.
One of the main legal frameworks that is there to protect vulnerable adults in the UK is the Care Act 2014. This set out how Local Authorities and other key parts of the system are responsible for ensuring that adults who are most at risk of both abuse and neglect are protected as much as they can be.
It is important that every agency that is involved in the care and well-being of a vulnerable adult is involved in the safeguarding process. The reason for this is that each agency may have its own piece of information that relates to the adult and be able to fit all of those things together to make a larger picture.
Without this collaborative approach to working, there is always a chance that some vital signs of the person not being treated in a way that is appropriate are missed, which means that they could not gain access to the help that they need.
No matter why the person is identified as being vulnerable, it is important to recognise that as an adult, vulnerable adults have the right to self-determination. This means that they can make the decision whether or not they want to act in a way that protects themselves.
Whilst this may sound like it is going to be counter-productive, it is this self-determination that can mean that the process of safeguarding that adult (and having the law involved) is different to those that apply to children.
If someone who is identified as being a vulnerable adult is at risk of harm, or who has been a victim of neglect and abuse, then they will be able to access a variety of support services to help them deal with the feelings that they may have.
This could be directly through the social care services that their Local Authority provides, or it could be via a charity or organisation who are there to help them. Some examples of this are Respond, Scope and Mind. Amongst many others.
If you are an individual and you believe that a vulnerable adult is at risk of abuse or neglect, then the first thing that you should do is contact your relevant Local Authority to discuss with them your concerns.
It is important to know that you can do this, whilst still being able to maintain your anonymity. However, you may be asked to provide your relevant contact details to allow the Local Authority to get back in touch with you for any further information and to discuss what you think may be happening. However, this information will not be shared with anyone else.
Whilst the responsibility for keeping vulnerable adults safe falls to the Local Authority, the community and individuals within it also have a key part to play. They are there to ensure that those who are most at risk of harm are protected.
Communities are there all the time, they see things on a daily basis, so, as long as they have involvement with the person, they are going to be able to to notice when something is not quite right.
Not only this, but they can also encourage the person to support and safeguard themselves. They can offer them support and guidance, they can ensure that they have someone to talk to when they feel that they need to share.
The majority of training is going to be available to be on offer to those who work in care and who work with those who are vulnerable. However, this doesn’t mean that you cannot access training if you do not work in these areas.
There is lots of information online that you can then use to help you learn more about abuse and neglect and what you can do to help mitigate it and offer support to the person who is at risk.
As with many crimes, if you are found guilty of abusing or neglecting someone who is identified as being a vulnerable adult, then you are going to have to face legal implications. The nature of the implication will really depend on the crime that was committed and its severity.
This could be a fine, or it could be a time in prison.
The Mental Capacity Act 2005 is there to ensure that vulnerable adults are protected. Every adult in the UK has the right to make their own decision, where they can and if they are unable to do this alone, they should have access to trusted adults to help them to make the decision that is best for them.
That said, if they are seen to not have the right level of mental capacity, then they may not be able to make a decision, even if that decision relates to their own safety and well-being.
Every adult has the right to be treated in a way that is dignified and that shows respect to them as a human. They should feel that they are safe and they should also feel empowered in any choices that they may make for themselves. This also includes any decisions that relate to their care and support.
Healthcare professionals form one of the agencies that need to be able to collaboratively work with other agencies in safeguarding. This means that they are responsible for playing a part in the safeguarding of vulnerable adults.
Even those who are working with them on an individual basis. They can notice changes in the person, even those which are subtle, and they can then share this with others in the multi-agency group.
Sometimes this means that they have the last puzzle piece to help to identify what may be happening to the adult and then be able to help them to stay safe.
Even adults who have been identified as being vulnerable have the right to be involved with and make decisions that impact their own lives. This means that if there is a safeguarding concern, then this should be discussed with the adult and their thoughts and preferences asked for.
This means that they feel that they are in charge or play an active role in their own care and they can make requests. Though, of course, if there is a real risk of harm, they may need to be guided in the right direction,
Even adults who have mental health concerns or disabilities have the right to make their own decisions. This is something that applies to all adults. However, the law can intervene if it is thought that the adult is not going to be able to make a decision that is going to place them in even more harm.
It can be difficult to ensure that adults who are vulnerable are effectively safeguarded. Especially since the very nature of their being vulnerable means that they are likely to be at risk of harm, abuse or neglect.
Some of the key factors that can impact the safeguarding of an adult who is vulnerable:
When it comes to safeguarding an adult who is vulnerable, it is important that every single person around them takes charge of this. Even those who are in the wider community. Those who are around the adult can make sure that the adult is monitored and that any changes that could point towards abuse are noted.
They can also ensure that the person themselves feels supported and safe. They can think about what decisions they make that they relate to themselves and their care and be able to talk through what their own concerns are and what this can mean for them.
You can get further savings by purchasing one of Learn Qs money saving bundles, such as:
These courses are ideal for those who work in hospitals, general practices, nursing homes, care homes, domiciliary care, as well as in religious and community organisations. By completing this course, you will be better equipped to handle safeguarding concerns and to ensure the safety and well-being of vulnerable adults.
At Learn Q, we are committed to providing high-quality training that meets the needs of professionals across a range of industries. Our Safeguarding Children courses are designed to provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to excel in your role and make a real difference in the lives of vulnerable children. Sign up today and take the next step in your career!
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