1.4 Preventing abuse
Preventing abuse and neglect
The provisions of the Care Act are intended to promote and secure wellbeing. Under the definition of wellbeing (see Chapter 1, Para 1.5), it is made clear that protection from abuse and neglect is a fundamental part of that. Identification and management of risk is an essential part of the assessment process; the risk to an adult of abuse or neglect should be considered at this point. (14.64 Care and Support Statutory Guidance 2016)
The most effective way to safeguard adults from abuse is to enable them to safeguard themselves. For some people this may involve their own support networks, or support or care services, depending on their individual circumstances. In order to safeguard themselves, adults and people who support them could consider the following:
- What kind of harm or exploitation they may be at risk of.
- Where the risk might arise.
- Who might potentially exploit or harm them.
There are many ways in which people can reduce the risks they may face, including:
- Considering how they can reduce the risks of being harmed or exploited.
- Identifying what strengths, skills, supports and networks they could use to avoid potentially abusive situations.
- Being aware of what to do if an abusive situation arises ie. how to get help, how to report concerns.
Formal (paid and unpaid) carers, workers and managers
Preventing abuse by paid and unpaid staff working with adults at risk begins with robust recruitment and retention processes.
All processes and checks for those who work with adults must include measures to avoid abuse occurring, including:
- Staff recruitment and vetting.
- Policies and procedures staff work to, including confidential reporting (whistle-blowing) and complaints procedures.
- Staff induction and training, including safeguarding adults policy and procedures and awareness of abuse and how to raise safeguarding concerns.
- Staff supervision and support.
- Professional codes of conduct or practice and relevant service standards eg. compliance with Essential Standards as detailed by the Care Quality Commission.
Employers should ensure they:
- Meet their responsibilities for obtaining Disclosure & Barring Service (DBS) checks and referring to the DBS.
- Meet their professional responsibilities under employment and other legislation.
- Have robust management systems in place for training and support.
Agencies and organisations must have a local policy and procedure in place detailing how these processes will be implemented to safeguard adults. If managers are not upholding their responsibilities this could leave adults at risk of abuse, and this should be reported as a safeguarding concern.
Informal carers (eg. family, friends and neighbours)
Informal carers are often the mainstay of ensuring that people are protected from abuse and as such they should be supported and aided in this task. Carers could be at risk of abuse themselves due to their caring role. Carers are entitled to an assessment of their needs in their own right.
Circumstances in which a carer (for example, a family member or friend) could be involved in a situation that may require a safeguarding response include:
- A carer may witness or speak up about abuse or neglect.
- A carer may experience intentional or unintentional harm from the adult they are trying to support, or from professionals and organisations they are in contact with.
- A carer may unintentionally or intentionally harm or neglect the adult they support on their own or with others.
In many cases no deliberate harm is intended, however, the impact on the cared-for person could be significant.
It is important to ensure that informal carers are aware of how to get advice and help when needed, to support them and avoid potential risk of abuse to them or the adult. All informal carers should have access to information regarding the Sussex Safeguarding Adults Policy, so they can recognise and prevent abuse, raise concerns, seek advice or support where needed.
The public and community
The public has a vital role in safeguarding adults through the recognition and prevention of abuse. It is the responsibility of all agencies and organisations to ensure that there is a good level of public awareness of adult abuse and how concerns should be reported.
Safeguarding support and interventions which lead to building or rebuilding a person’s confidence, assertiveness and sense of self-worth will help empower them to take control of situations which can lead to abuse or neglect.
The consequences and impact of abuse and neglect will vary from person to person, depending on their level of resilience. This will depend on a number of factors including personal attributes, their history and what support is available to them.
Taking a strengths-based approach to assessment within safeguarding can help practitioners to recognise a person's skills and capacity to manage stress. It is beneficial to support individuals to develop the coping skills necessary to manage problematic situations in the future. This shift in focus can lead to the ability for people to protect themselves from abuse and neglect.
Research suggests the following guidelines for strength-based assessment within safeguarding (Cowger and Snively, 2001):
- Central focus is given to the individual's understanding of the facts.
- The person should be believed.
- Every effort is made to discover what the person wants including time, practical resources such as tools, interpretation and advocacy.
- The person's own words should be used to describe what they want.
- Assessment should be a joint activity between the practitioner and the person at risk.
- A mutual agreement on how this takes place should be reached.
- Blame should be avoided.
- Cause-and-effect thinking should be avoided.
- The assessment of the situation should be considered and not 'diagnosis' of why it happened.