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Home / Blog / Safeguarding / Understanding The Six Principles of Safeguarding

Within safeguarding, it is important to recognise that there are six core principles to consider. These principles are a core part of any safeguarding policy, and they form the basis of not only how vulnerable adults and children should be treated, but also how staff should interact with these parties and also their primary safeguarding responsibilities as professionals.

Therefore, it is vital to have a good understanding of the principles, their impact on a job role, and what can be done to properly integrate them into an existing safeguarding policy if for some reason they are not already included.

The Legislation (Care Act 2014)

The legislation which you need to know about is the Care Act 2014, which came into effect back in 2015. It is, at the time of writing, the most significant reform of support and care in over 60 years in the UK.

The purpose of the Care Act 2014 is to put ordinary people and their carers in control of their support and care which they receive on a daily or weekly basis.

As an act, this documentation combines many existing pieces of legislation into one cohesive new document. The past legislation used to govern how social care was previously arranged in the UK.

As a document, it is generally understood that the purpose of the Care Act is to make it easier for the general population to understand why certain things happen in particular ways.

Furthermore, the Care Act aims to change many instances of how support is arranged and provided, as well as giving a greater degree of control and influence to people in need of support the most.

Some of the most significant developments of the Care Act are as follows:

New criteria was designed which made it much clearer when the local authorities across the UK have an obligation to offer support to people within their boundaries, and also aims to make sure that there is a fairer, cohesive national system in place which supports people in need of help.

There was a change in the way in which local authorities were able to complete their assessments of people who needed support. People who are in need of support are encouraged to give proper thought about what it is that they want to achieve within their lives – these types of outcomes can be anything, no matter how big or small, which enables them to feel a greater level of emotional and physical well-being.

New rights were afforded to caters which helped to put them on equal footing as the people that they provided care and support for. Once upon a time, a carer did not receive equal support for their efforts. Now, all carers are entitled to an assessment. This assessment helps to identify that if a carer needs specific support for a particular need, then they have a legal right to obtain these needs, much like the people that they care for.

A greater emphasis will be placed on helping to protect the most vulnerable members of society from neglect or abuse.

There should be a greater emphasis placed on prevention within the community. Local authorities should make more of an effort to assist and encourage people to be able to lead healthy lives – these lives can sometimes reduce the likelihood of needing more support from local authorities in the future.

A greater emphasis needs to be placed on local authorities being able to provide clear advice and information to the public. This new information should help people to be able to make informed choices about their lives, specifically relating to their support arrangements, which will help them to stay in control of their lives.

There should be a greater emphasis on improving existing personal budgets. These budgets should afford people the power to not only spend allocated money on tailored care, but also to meet their individual needs as part of their ongoing support plan.

There should be a greater emphasis being placed on those who are most in need getting access to someone that they can talk to. This individual should also function as a representative who can communicate on behalf of that individual during their interactions with social care workers.

Greater regulations should be provided for anyone who offers and administers professional support and care. There should also be tougher penalties for people who do not provide support and care of a high enough standard.

Finally, there should be changes relating to how and when people are asked to contribute towards the cost of their support. These costs should be arranged in conjunction with their local authority.

Who Is It For?

The Care Act applies to professionals working within the health and social care sector. As a professional in these industries, you have what is known as a legally binding duty of care. This responsibility is not only applicable to you, but is also applicable to your colleagues, and anyone who works within your work setting.

A good example of this are people who work in a care home. If you work in the care home, then your duty of care is not only towards members of the public who use the service, but also towards the maintenance and cleaners

It is important to understand that your duty of care is non-negotiable. Your specific duties will be outlined and given to you via the code of conduct that you will have read and agreed to when you first joined your organisation.

The act provides a new legal duty for the eligible needs of an adult. These needs have to be met by the local authority, subject to the financial circumstances of the adult.

The act is clear when it outlines that a person will be entitled to have their specific needs met when they meet the following criteria.

If the adult has eligible needs, or is considered to be ordinarily resident in the local area, which basically means that their established home is within the boundaries of the local authority, then they are entitled to have their needs met, so long as they fulfil any of the five conditions laid out below.

  • The first scenario is that the type of support and care that the vulnerable party needs is provided to them free of charge.
  • The second scenario is that the person cannot afford to pay for the full cost of their support and care that they receive.
  • The third scenario is when the person directly appeals to the local authority to help meet their needs.
  • The fourth scenario is when the person does not have the mental capacity to make their own decisions, and there is nobody else left who can arrange care for them.
  • The fifth and final scenario is when the cap on care costs comes into force, which is when their total support and care costs have exceeded the limit.

What Are the 6 Principles of Safeguarding?

In the context of safeguarding, there are considered to be six key principles which outline how safeguarding takes place with vulnerable adults. These principles help to paint a clear picture of what safeguarding is all about at a fundamental level.

At the very core, safeguarding is all about making sure that the human rights, health and well-being of vulnerable adults and children is protected to the best of people’s ability.

Understanding these principles, knowing what they are, knowing how to follow them, and knowing how to act if there is a situation where they are not being met is a core part of keeping vulnerable people safe from abuse, harm, and neglect.


Empowerment is all about informed consent. The main goal of this principle is to make sure that vulnerable people are empowered to make their own choices about their lives. To give a prominent example, a vulnerable person will be expected to have complete knowledge of the outcomes involved in medical treatment because they have been educated on them, and can thus make an informed decision regarding consent.

In order to make sure that a vulnerable person can make this type of decision, it is necessary to make sure that all the required information is given to them in what is, essentially, an objective manner. Services which are provided should also be properly tailored to meet the specific needs of the person that you are working with. For example, you can ask a person what their best outcome for a situation is, and structure your responses around their needs and wishes.

As is the case with any safeguarding principles, the interests of the person you are working with have to take priority. The empowerment principle is all about making sure that vulnerable parties have the information they need to make sure that their opinions, beliefs and thoughts are all taken into consideration during the decision-making process.

The only exception to this would be if they did not have the mental capacity required to make decisions about their health or life, as defined by the Mental Capacity Act 2005. However, in all other scenarios, a person should have control over the choices they make.


Prevention is a principle of safeguarding which is most concerned with making sure that the threat of neglect, harm and abuse never takes place. It is a preemptive measure as opposed to a reactionary one.

The intention with this principle is to make sure that if there is a chance that neglect or abuse could occur, action is taken to stop that from happening.

A key part of this would be making sure that there is suitable awareness about who is most vulnerable in our communities. A vulnerable adult, for example, can include someone who has a physical or mental disability, those who have terminal illnesses and the elderly.

Proper safeguarding training is also needed to recognise the signs of harm, neglect and abuse. To guarantee this, proper safeguarding training is mandated in such a way that the training and advice needed must be easily accessed and communicated with others to guarantee overall effectiveness. By doing this, any signs of abuse or neglect can be recognised and acted on sooner rather than later.


Proportionality is a core part of any situation where safeguarding is concerned. Essentially, you need to make sure that you are dealing with the safeguarding issue in such a way that is proportional to the risk which is presented to the person.

A general rule when it comes to safeguarding is that it is important to respond to the issues in the most intrusive way possible to protect the person in question. With that being said, to make sure that a safeguarding concern is dealt with in the correct fashion, you need to assess the risk.

There are several questions which should be asked. How likely is harm or abuse to occur? How severe is the situation in question?

There are many situations where only a small intervention is necessary to safeguard someone from harm. However, in situations when the life of a person is in danger, it is important to introduce a more urgent, invasive response. However, regardless of what is done, the best interests of the vulnerable person must be kept in mind.


Protection is a principle which reiterates the basic tenets of safeguarding – to support vulnerable parties and protect them from harm wherever necessary.

Therefore, underneath this principle, organisations and individuals need to make sure that they understand the best practices to protect people from harm. They need to know what should happen if there is a safeguarding concern, as well as how to prevent the situation from escalating or happening.


Partnership encourages collaboration between the local communities and other organisations as necessary for safeguarding purposes.

Organisations are advised to take the time to raise awareness of safeguarding. If local communities understand how neglect, harm and abuse can be spotted, reported and prevented, then vulnerable parties and people in these communities stand the best chance at being protected.

It is also considered that organisations can share relevant information about vulnerable parties with other organisations so long as it is considered to be relevant to keep a person safe.


When it comes to keeping other people safe, it is important to recognise that everybody has some form of responsibility. If you are in contact with a vulnerable party, then you have a duty to take note of any safeguarding concerns and report them. This means that if you are a friend, relative, carer or doctor – the responsibility is the same.

Accountability is a key part of the process and is ensured via establishing clear roles and rules about safeguarding in the workplace environment. If things are done in this way, then everyone can understand exactly what needs to happen in order to make sure that the people they are in contact with are kept safe from abuse and neglect.

Safeguarding Training from Learn Q

Safeguarding training is all about making sure that when it comes to your responsibilities within an organisation, you take appropriate steps to look after yourself and others. For this reason, receiving a proper education in this arena is vital for making the best choices.

Learn Q can provide competent and effective safeguarding training in any arena to make sure that a business has the necessary skills required to practice safeguarding, and that all staff are educated to an acceptable standard. This includes our Level 1 Safeguarding Children and Young People and Level 2 Safeguarding Children and Young People online courses. Learn Q are more than capable of providing a full and rich education for your entire team.

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