2.1 What is safeguarding?
Safeguarding is defined as ‘protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.’ (Care and Support statutory guidance, chapter 14). Adult safeguarding is about preventing and responding to concerns of abuse, harm or neglect of adults. Staff should work together in partnership with adults so that they are:
- Safe and able to protect themselves from abuse and neglect;
- Treated fairly and with dignity and respect;
- Protected when they need to be;
- Able easily to get the support, protection and services that they need.
2.1.1 The aims of Adult Safeguarding are to:
- Stop abuse or neglect wherever possible;
- Prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect to adults with care and support needs;
- Safeguard adults in a way that supports them in making choices and having control about how they want to live;
- Promote an approach that concentrates on improving life for the adults concerned;
- Raise public awareness so that communities as a whole, alongside professionals, play their part in preventing, identifying and responding to abuse and neglect;
- Provide information and support in accessible ways to help adults understand the different types of abuse, how to stay safe and what to do to raise a concern about the safety or well-being of an adult; and
- Address what has caused the abuse.
Section 2 of the Care Act requires Local Authorities to ensure the provision of preventative services (i.e. services which help prevent or delay the development of care and support needs, or reduce care and support needs). Organisations should take a broad community approach to establishing safeguarding arrangements, working together on prevention strategies. A core responsibility of a SAB is to have an overview of prevention strategies and ensure that they are linked to the Health and Wellbeing Boards, Quality Surveillance Groups (QSG), and Community Safety Partnerships prevention strategies (See appendix 4). Prevention strategies might include:
- Identifying adults at risk of abuse;
- Public awareness;
- Information, advice and advocacy;
- Inter-agency cooperation;
- Training and education;
- Integrated policies and procedures;
- Integrated quality and safeguarding strategies;
- Community links and community support;
- Regulation and legislation;
- Proactive approach to Prevent.
Partners should embrace strategies that support action before harm can occur. Where abuse or neglect has occurred, steps should be taken to prevent it from reoccurring wherever possible, doing so within relevant parameters but sharing intelligence to support a holistic partnership approach to prevention. For example, visiting staff might identify an adult with a combination of characteristics that may render them more vulnerable to a fire risk and take action to refer to Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service for a fire safety check.
Organisations should implement robust risk management processes that identify adults at risk of abuse or neglect and take timely appropriate action. Safeguarding functions should be integrated into quality management and assurance structures.
Prevention should be discussed at every stage of safeguarding, and is especially important at the closure stage (which can happen at any time) when working with adults on resilience and recovery. Discussions between staff and adults, their personal network and the wider community (if appropriate) help build up resilience as part of the recovery process. Where support is needed to prevent abuse, this needs to be identified and put into safeguarding planning.
2.1.3 Raising awareness
Public awareness campaigns can make a significant contribution to the prevention of abuse. They are more effective if backed up by information and advice about where to get help, and there is effective training for staff and services to respond. Joint initiatives to raise awareness can be very effective.
The term ‘information’ means the communication of knowledge and facts regarding care. ‘Advice’ means helping a person to identify choices and/or providing an opinion or recommendation regarding a course of action in relation to care and support. Local Authorities are required to establish and maintain an information and advice service relating to all local residents within its area, not just adults with care and support needs.
Information and advice is critical to preventing or delaying the need for services and, in relation to safeguarding, can be the first step to responding to a concern. Section 4, the Care Act states that Local Authorities must: ‘establish and maintain a service for providing people in its area with information and advice relating to care and support for adults and support for carers.’ This includes information and advice about safeguarding and should include:
- How to raise concerns about the safety or wellbeing of an adult who has needs for care and support;
- Awareness of different types of abuse and neglect;
- How people can keep safe, and how to support people to keep safe;
- The safeguarding adults process;
- How SABs work.
All organisations should ensure that they are able to provide this service and can signpost adults to receive the right kind of help by the right organisation.
Whereas information may be generic to a lesser or greater extent, advice needs to be tailored to the person seeking it, recognising people may need different mediums through which to communicate. Advice and information should, where possible, be provided in the manner preferred by the person and in a way to help them understand the information being conveyed. This should be cognisant of the Equality Act 2010. ‘Reasonable adjustments’ should be made to ensure that disabled people have equal access to information and advice services. Reasonable adjustments could include the provision of information in accessible formats or with communication support.
Organisations have a number of direct opportunities to provide, or signpost people to information and advice, in particular for safeguarding:
- At first point of contact;
- During or following an adult safeguarding enquiry;
- Safeguarding planning;
- Risk management;
- Through complaints and feedback about a service which identifies a safeguarding concern.