Accounts of mistreatment in care have unfortunately met the public eye on more than one occasion, even if the overwhelming majority of care professionals are honest and upstanding. Safeguarding is a term that comes up quickly in any conversation about maltreatment, so what is safeguarding exactly?
Safeguarding refers to the measures and processes that are put in place to protect people from harm, neglect, and abuse, and to ensure that their rights and well-being are respected and upheld. Safeguarding is a broad term that can encompass a wide range of activities and measures, including:
- Prevention: This involves taking steps to prevent harm, neglect, and abuse from occurring in the first place. This can include training and education for staff and carers, implementing policies and procedures, and conducting regular assessments and audits.
- Protection: This involves taking action to protect individuals from harm, neglect, and abuse when it is suspected or known to be happening. This can include reporting incidents, conducting investigations, and providing support and assistance to the victim.
- Advocacy: This involves supporting and empowering individuals to have a voice in decisions that affect their lives and to make choices that are in their best interests.
Legislation in Safeguarding
Safeguarding is a crucial aspect of care and support, and is essential for ensuring that individuals are able to live their lives free from harm, neglect, and abuse. In many countries, safeguarding is a legal requirement, and it is the responsibility of organisations and individuals to ensure that it is implemented effectively.
In the United Kingdom, there are several pieces of relevant legislation concerning the protection of individuals from harm, neglect, and abuse. Some of the key pieces of legislation include:
- The Care Act 2014: This is the primary piece of legislation that governs adult safeguarding in England. It sets out the legal framework for safeguarding adults, including the responsibilities of local authorities and other organisations, and the rights of individuals.
- The Children Act 1989 and 2004: These Acts set out the legal framework for safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children in England and Wales. They establish the responsibilities of local authorities, health and social care providers, and other organisations to protect children from harm, and to promote their welfare.
- The Human Rights Act 1998: This Act incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law, and provides a framework for the protection of individuals’ rights, including the right to life, the right to be free from torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and the right to respect for private and family life.
- The Mental Capacity Act 2005: This Act provides a framework for making decisions on behalf of individuals who lack capacity to make decisions for themselves. It includes provisions to protect individuals from harm, neglect, and abuse, and to ensure that decisions are made in their best interests.
These are just a few of the key pieces of legislation in the UK that relate to safeguarding. There may be additional legislation and regulations that apply in different contexts and circumstances, so it is important to be aware of the specific requirements and responsibilities in your area.
Professional obligations in relation to safeguarding refer to the responsibilities and duties that individuals have as a result of their professional role. The specific professional obligations will depend on the individual’s role, but the most common include:
- Reporting concerns: All professionals have a duty to report any concerns about harm, neglect, or abuse that they encounter in their work.
- Protecting individuals: Professionals have a duty to take all reasonable steps to protect individuals from harm, neglect, and abuse, and to promote their well-being.
- Promoting independence: Where possible, professionals should aim to promote the independence of individuals and to support them to make their own decisions.
- Respecting rights: Professionals must respect the rights of individuals, and must act in accordance with relevant legislation, such as the Human Rights Act 1998, which incorporates the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law.
- Maintaining confidentiality: Professionals must maintain the confidentiality of information about individuals, in accordance with relevant legislation, such as the Data Protection Act 2018. However, they are obliged to break this confidentiality under their safeguarding duties.
- Undertaking training: All professionals must undertake appropriate training in safeguarding, and must stay up-to-date with best practice and any changes in relevant legislation and guidance.
- Cooperating with others: Professionals must work in partnership with other organisations and agencies, and must cooperate with safeguarding investigations and reviews.
Professional obligations in relation to safeguarding are an important aspect of ensuring that individuals are protected from harm, neglect, and abuse, and that safeguarding activities are carried out effectively. Failure to fulfill professional obligations can result in disciplinary action, and may also result in legal proceedings
What is a Safeguarding Board?
Safeguarding boards are inter-agency bodies that have been established in the United Kingdom to coordinate and oversee the protection of children and adults at risk of harm, neglect, and abuse. Their primary function is to ensure that these activities are carried out effectively and in accordance with relevant legislation and guidance.
There are separate boards for children and adults, and each board is responsible for ensuring that safeguarding activities are carried out within their local area. These boards bring together representatives from a range of organisations and agencies, including local authorities, health and social care providers, police, and others, to ensure that activities are coordinated and effective.
Their specific functions vary depending on the specific needs and circumstances of the local area, but typically include:
- Overseeing safeguarding activities: Safeguarding boards are responsible for ensuring that activities are carried out effectively, and for reviewing and monitoring safeguarding arrangements.
- Providing guidance and support: Safeguarding boards provide guidance and support to local organisations and agencies to help them to fulfill their responsibilities.
- Conducting reviews: Safeguarding boards are responsible for conducting reviews of safeguarding incidents, and for identifying lessons that can be learned to improve activities in the future.
- Promoting best practice: Safeguarding boards play a key role in promoting best practice, and in sharing learning and experience between organisations and agencies.
Safeguarding boards are an important part of the healthcare system in the UK, and play a crucial role in ensuring that individuals are protected from harm, neglect, and abuse.