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What Is Safeguarding & Why Is It Important?

Sadly, abuse is prevalent in society and often it is the most vulnerable people that are commonly victims of abuse. It is a basic human right for a person to live in a safe environment away from harm or abuse and they should, in no circumstances, be exploited. Therefore, safeguarding procedures are a pivotal component to ensuring these individuals are protected.

What Is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding, which was introduced many years ago, does precisely as it says; it protects vulnerable adults, young people and children from abuse, harm and neglect in society. The health and social care sector are probably the industry most familiar with safeguarding and its concept as it inherently deals with businesses and organisations that are responsible for looking after those at risk of abuse.

The Safeguarding principles:

There are six safeguarding principles which were created by the UK government to help better protect vulnerable individuals and which have been agreed within the Care Act 2014. They are:

  1. Empowerment: Ensuring people are confident and supported in making their own decisions and giving informed consent. Empowerment gives individuals choice and control over decisions that are made.
  2. Protection: Providing support and representation for those greatest in need. Organisations can implement measures to prevent abuse from occurring and support those at risk.
  3. Prevention: It is imperative to act before harm occurs, preventing neglect, harm or abuse. Organisations work to prevent abuse from happening by raising awareness, staff training and making information accessible. They also encourage individuals to ask for help if they feel at risk.
  4. Proportionality: Explores what the least unintrusive response to a situation is in correlation to the risk. This aims to ensure the individual’s life is impacted as little as possible by accurately assessing the risk. 
  5. Partnership: Forming partnerships with local communities can create solutions as they can assist in preventing and detecting abuse. 
  6. Accountability: Safeguarding is everybody’s duty and people who are in contact with a vulnerable person should be responsible for noting any risks. Although carers and social workers have a responsibility to highlight any potential harm, it should also be noted that doctors, friends and relatives also have responsibility to flag any concerns.

Why is safeguarding important?

For many people, working with vulnerable groups is incredibly rewarding. While some go in with heroism in mind, any role that involves the most vulnerable members of society comes with a heap of responsibilities. It is up to those members of staff to ensure a vulnerable person’s right to live without fear of abuse and neglect is supported. 

People must be vigilant for potential signs of abuse and neglect because missing these could be catastrophic. If an organisation has poor safeguarding policies or no safeguarding in place at all, this could lead to:

  • Abuse and neglect being missed.
  • An increase in abuse cases.
  • Vulnerable people not being treated with compassion or empathy.
  • Increased confusion and distress for suffering individuals because they have no one to turn to.
  • A complete loss of dignity and autonomy for vulnerable adults.

Safeguarding: a nurse’s role

Safeguarding adults is everyone’s responsibility, but nurses have a professional duty as directed by the Nursing and Midwifery Council. All nurses should promote and protect the rights of patients who are unable to protect themselves from any harm or abuse. They should not assume that someone else may have flagged a concern and should continue to raise a safeguarding concern. 

Nurses also need to ensure that any reports of abuse need to be done with discretion and in accordance with local policies, procedures and legislation. 

Primary safeguarding issues

Abuse, harm and neglect can manifest itself in many forms, however, there are some which are more dominant than others. They include:

  1. Child criminal exploitation
  2. Child sexual exploitation
  3. County lines (whereby gangs and organised networks groom and exploit children specifically to sell drugs).
  4. Domestic abuse
  5. Preventing radicalisation
  6. Upskirting
  7. Honour-based abuse

DBS checks for safeguarding purposes

DBS checks play a vital role in safeguarding requirements and ensure that organisations meet their safeguarding criteria. If an applicant wants to work with vulnerable adults, the DBS check confirms whether they are clear to do so. Under the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012, organisations have a legal obligation to check that an applicant or volunteer engaging in regulated activity with a vulnerable person is not barred from working with them. 

The organisation would be required to complete an Enhanced DBS check for the applicant and would need to select the appropriate barred lists as part of an application.

If you have any questions regarding safeguarding, please do give us a call on 0333 777 8575 or contact us online and we will be happy to help.