Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and Children Policy

Safeguarding VulnerableAdultsandChildren

 

 

 ResponsibleOfficer:  AssistantChief Executive–NeighbourhoodServices
 Approved:  April 2017
 ReviewDate:  April 2020
 Scope:  UnitWide

1.0    Introduction

 

1.1 There can be no secrets or hiding place when it comes to exposing the abuse of vulnerable adults and children. In recent years several incidents have demonstrated the need for immediate action to ensure vulnerable adults and children who are at risk of abuse, receive protection and support. The Government gives a high priority to such action and sees local statutory agencies and other relevant agencies as important partners in ensuring such action is taken wherever needed.

1.2 The Government’s aim is to create a framework for action within which all responsible agencies work together to ensure a coherent policy for the protection of vulnerable adults and children at risk of abuse and a consistent and effective response to any circumstances giving ground for concern.

1.3 Helping Our Future believes that all people have the right to live their lives free from abuse and is committed to responding to allegations of abuse of a child or vulnerable adult.

2.0    Policy Statement and Definitions

 

2.1 The purpose of this Safeguarding Policy is to ensure that Helping Our Future employees and its stakeholders play their part in preventing, identifying and reporting abuse. The policy and procedures apply to all employees including permanent, part-time and temporary staff, agency employees and volunteers.

2.2 This policy and the associated procedures cover abuse of vulnerable adults and children who are users to our services by anyone in a relationship of trust with them – friends, relatives, support staff, housing or homelessness staff etc.  Sometimes an act between service user and service user will also come within the scope of these procedures because of the vulnerability of the victim and the nature of the act.

2.3 For the purpose of this policy a vulnerable adult is defined as a person aged over 18 and: “Who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental disability, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation”. (No Secrets 2000 DOH)

A child is anyone who has not yet reached their 18th birthday. (Children Acts 1989 and 2004)

2.4 Abuse is the violation of an individual’s human rights.  It can be a single act or repeated acts.  It can be physical, sexual, emotional, financial or discriminatory.  It also includes acts of neglect or an omission to act.  (LordChancellor 1997)

For a more detail please refer to Appendix 1.

 

3.0    Inter-agency Work

 

3.1 This is an area of practice which requires local partnerships working between statutory agencies to create a framework of inter-agency agreements. This policy and the supporting procedures have been developed to this effect; as such Helping Our Future agrees to:

  • Work together to improve safeguarding standards in the city of Wolverhampton.
  • Ensure our policy and procedures remain consistent with local arrangements and are developed in collaboration and consultation with relevant agencies but also take account of the views of service users, families, carer representatives and other advocates.
  • Monitor performance and make improvements where required.
  • Promote engagement with service users and the community to raise awareness of safeguarding.

 

4.0    Legislative Framework

 

4.1 The State’s role in safeguarding is to provide the vision and direction and ensure that the legal framework, including powers and duties is clear and proportionate. There are two strands of relevant law: protection and prevention.  Currently there is no specific legislation for protecting vulnerable adults as there is for children, since the law generally assumes that adults are responsible for their own actions.

4.2 However, protection is available through criminal and civil courts, both to prevent a person being abused and to take action against the abuser.  Comparatively little use has been made of the law regarding abuse and there can also be difficulties in obtaining sufficiently reliable evidence from witnesses. Helping Our Future will ensure that any safeguarding reports or referrals are supported by a robust and systematic audit trail.

4.3 Vulnerable adults and children are protected in the same way as any other person against criminal acts. Thus if a person commits theft, rape or assault against a vulnerable adult or child hey should be dealt with through the criminal justice system, in the same way as in cases involving any other victim.

4.4 The policy and procedures have due regard for all relevant statutes and guidance. These are detailed in full in Appendix 2.

 

5.0    Policy Framework

 

5.1 Other policies and procedures may also be invoked in the protection of vulnerable adults and children; these include but are not limited to:

  • Code of Conduct for Staff and Board Members;
  • Whistleblowing Policy;
  • Domestic Abuse Policy;
  • Hate Crime Policy;
  • Anti-Social Behaviour Policy;
  • Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures (various);
  • Professional Boundaries Policy;
  • Data Protection Policy;
  • Blue Flag Policy;
  • Intensive Housing Management Policy;
  • Covert Surveillance Policy.

 

6.0    Key Principles

 

6.1 Empowerment

  • Presumption of person led decisions
  • Promote the rights of all people to live free from abuse and coercion;
  • Empower service users by making sure that they are aware: what constitutes abuse, exploitation or grooming and that they do not have to tolerate it; of what to do if it occurs;
  • Provide services and information in ways that meet the varied needs of all of our users and to ensure that all responses are made with due regard to issues of race, religion or belief, culture, gender, transgender, age, disability and sexual orientation.

 

6.2 Prevention

  • It is better to take action before harm occurs;
  • Manage services and empower service users in a way that will prevent or minimise the potential for abuse or exploitation.

 

6.3 Proportionality

  • Proportionate and least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.

 

6.4 Protection

  • Support and representation for those in greatest need;
  • Ensure the safety of wellbeing of people who do not have the capacity to decide how they want to respond to abuse that they are suffering
  • Respond to any allegations or suspicions of abuse, exploitation or grooming promptly and thoroughly and take action to eliminate it.

 

6.5 Partnership

  • Local solutions through services working with their communities; communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting abuse and neglect;
  • Work in co-operation with partner agencies, such as social services safeguarding teams, police, and doctors.

 

6.6 Accountability

  • Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding;
  • Learn from any situations investigated and use this learning to protect children and vulnerable adults from abuse or exploitation;

 

7.0    Outcomes

7.1      These principles will be translated into outcomes and checked through an audit process.

 

8.0    Reporting Abuse

8.1 All Helping our Future employees  have a responsibility for reporting suspected or observed abuse. Helping Our Future will issue employees with concern cards that can be completed when an employee is concerned that a user, member of their family or household is being abused or is at risk of abuse; based on the definitions and indicators set out in Appendix 1 of this policy. The Concern Cards can be used anonymously.

8.2 Concern cards will be submitted to an Alerting Manager at the earliest opportunity, but no later than 24 hours after suspecting/observing abuse; the Alerting Manager will then progress the concern using the prescribed procedures.

8.3 It is Helping Our Future policy that staff will ensure that they maintain their own safety as a priority. In situations of immediate danger, staff are instructed to leave the accommodation/site and contact the relevant emergency service; in most instances this is likely to be the police or ambulance service.

8.4 Helping Our Future will support a ‘common sense’ approach to reporting abuse.  Staff will be expected to listen their ‘gut feeling’ and trust their instincts.  The training provided to staff will recognise that:

  • People have diverse views as to what is acceptable with regard to cleanliness of a home or care of another person. For example, a parent chastising their children as a form of punishment can be classed as abuse.  It is important to be sensitive to and tolerant of diverse customs and views and recognise that concerns can often be addressed through education in the first instance.
  • Living in temporary accommodation can be difficult and can affect the behaviour of both adults and children. Helping Our Future will use support plans to ensure that those living in temporary accommodation can access services that will enable them to develop appropriate parenting skills and responses or help them to cope better.
  • Adults will often stay in a relationship where domestic abuse has previously taken place and it is suspected that the abuse will continue. On the whole, where an adult is deemed to have the capacity to make a decision about this, Helping Our Future will offer support to the person but will not involve other agencies. However, if the adult has children who are believed to be at risk, Helping Our Future will take steps to inform the relevant social services department to express concerns.

 

9.0    Accountability

9.1 The Role of Board Members

Board Members are accountable for Helping Our Future and therefore all safeguarding within the organisation. They must also approve the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and Children Policy, as well as all associated procedures.

9.2 The Role of the Board Member Safeguarding Champion

The role of the Safeguarding Champion is primarily to advocate for vulnerable adults and children in relevant matters brought before the Board.

9.3 The Role of the Chief Executive

The Chief Executive is accountable to the Board for safeguarding within the organisation and ensuring a clear framework for the management accountability for safeguarding.

9.4 The Role of the Executive Management Group

The Executive Management Group (EMG) is accountable to the Chief Executive for safeguarding within their departments and for:

  • Leading on safeguarding as a corporate issue and ensuring that it is incorporated into all relevant strategic plans;
  • Ensuring that any quality assurance system takes account of safeguarding;
  • Regularly considering safeguarding at EMG meetings;
  • Ensuring that safe employment practices are fully employed.

 

9.5 The Role of All Helping Our Future Staff

All Helping Our Future staff are responsible for raising suspected or observed abuse using the Concern Card procedures.

9.6 The Role of the Alerting Manager

However ‘minor’, all allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and documented by the Alerting Manager using the Incident Report Form and referred to the appropriate body, such as the Local Authority or the Police.

If a vulnerable adult does not want a referral to be made by the Alerting Manager, then their wishes should be honoured unless:-

  • A crime is suspected;
  • Allegations involve a member of staff, paid carer or volunteer;
  • They or others are in physical danger;
  • It is the considered assessment of the Alerting Manager that they are unable/incapable of making an informed decision for themselves or;
  • They are not the only person affected and risk to others needs to be considered.

All allegations/disclosures of abuse of a child will be referred by the Alerting Manager to the appropriate body.

The responsible Alerting Manager will:

  • Ensure that the procedures are followed appropriately in consultation with Social Care services;
  • The appropriate agencies are informed;
  • Information is recorded and stored appropriately;
  • Provide information to staff reporting concerns about support available to them.

 

10.0  Staff Training

 

10.1 Use of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and Children procedures (including use of the Concern Card) will be covered in the Induction Training of all staff and Board Members.

10.2 An e-learning module on Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and Children will be completed by all staff and a record of this will be made by the Human Resources Team.

10.3 More detailed training will be provided for all Alerting Managers, support staff and those who monitor the service or take part in Case Conferences.

 

11.0  Recruitment

 

11.1 Every effort will be made to ensure that staff, students and volunteers recruited to work for Helping Our Future are suitable to do so. Those who are responsible for appointing staff will be trained in safe recruitment practices.

11.2 All references will be robustly scrutinised and other checks sought at the appropriate level, e.g. the Disclosure and Barring Service.

 

12.0  Confidentiality

 

12.1 Confidentiality will be maintained for all concerned in the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults, including those who report a concern/incident. The identity of the person reporting a concern/incident will not be disclosed by Helping Our Future or external agencies to the alleged perpetrator.  All information should be handled and disseminated on a need to know basis only.

12.2 Where a staff member is approached regarding an allegation, issues of confidentiality will be clarified early in the discussion. The person should be informed that the staff member will at the very least, have to disclose the conversation to the Alerting Manager and depending on the severity of the information may be disclosed to Social Care services or the Police.

12.3 There may be occasions where a child or vulnerable adult expresses a wish for concerns not to be pursued.

12.4 With regard to vulnerable adults, decisions about whether to respect the persons’ wishes must have regard to the level of risk to the individual and/or others and their capacity to understand the decision in questions and to make decisions relating to it. In some circumstances the persons’ wishes may be overridden in favour of consideration of safety for the person and the safety of others.

12.5 With regard to children, all concerns will be referred to the Alerting Manager.

 

13.0  Allegations Against Employees

 

13.1    If, under the Safeguarding procedures, allegations are raised against employees, these would be dealt with in accordance with Helping Our Futures’ disciplinary procedure.  If allegations of inappropriate conduct towards children or vulnerable adults are upheld, this may result in the dismissal of the employee of the grounds of gross misconduct.  Any
allegations against staff will also be reported to the appropriate statutory agencies this may lead to criminal prosecution and investigation.

 

14.0  Monitoring

 

14.1 The Alerting Manager will:

  • Ensure that an Incident Report Form for all reports of concern made is completed;
  • Record the outcome of all Incident Report Form reviews, including non-referral;
  • Meet quarterly with other Alerting Managers and Helping Our Future representative on the District Safeguarding Partnership. This meeting will be chaired by Helping Our Future Director of Estate and Support Services and will be used to monitor and review referrals and identify learning.

 

14.2 The Directors of causes will jointly produce a 6 monthly anonymised report for EMT and the Board, outlining the data and information collected.

14.3 EMG will review the learning from referrals made on a six monthly basis, making recommendations to the Board for any changes in policy, procedure or practice required.

 

15.0 Review

15.1    This policy will be reviewed annually with relevant partners or stakeholders or sooner ifthere isafundamentalchange of legislative or regulatory provisions.