Background

West Herts Homes provides services to a wide range of vulnerable residents, and throughout our services, staff could, from time to time, become aware of /or suspect situations where abuse of a vulnerable person may be taking place.  We will not knowingly ignore or allow such incidents to continue unchallenged and will require our staff to take action in all cases where it is suspected that abuse of a vulnerable person is occurring, no matter whom the perpetrator is or who the victim is.  We will respect and support anyone who whistle-blows because they think someone is being abused and have a Whistleblowing Policy to support this. 

We have developed this policy using guidance from the department of Health publication ‘No Secrets’ (2000) and Care and Support Statutory Guidance issued under the Care Act 2014.

The Care Act 2014 sets out six key principles that underpin all adult safeguarding work:

Empowerment – Personalisation and the presumption of person-led decisions and informed consent.

Prevention – It is better to take action before harm occurs.

Proportionality – Proportionate and least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.

Protection – Support and representation for those in greatest need.

Partnership – Local solutions through services working with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.

Accountability – Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.

Under the latter, we will co-operate with local authorities implementing their statutory duties around adult safeguarding. This may include: carrying out ‘enquiries’ into incidents, information sharing, participating in the new statutory local Safeguarding Adults Board. We will  make staff familiar with the principles of safeguarding, train staff to be vigilant, recognise signs of abuse and know what to do if they see those signs.

Principles

At all times, our internal policy should be read in conjunction with the policy of Hertfordshire County Council for Safeguarding Adults at Risk, and where there is any conflict on any issue the policy of the County Council will have precedence. 

Safeguarding Adults

The purpose of this policy is to protect those adults who are subject to or at the risk of abuse and neglect, who are:

  • aged 18 years or over
  • who may be vulnerable and already be in receipt of or need of community care services by reason of mental or other disabilities, age, or illness
  • who may be unable to take care of themselves or unable to safeguard themselves against significant harm or exploitation

Client groups could include:

  • People with Learning disabilities
  • People with Mental health problems
  • Older people
  • People with physical disabilities
  • People with visual and sensory impairment
  • People who rely on others for care and/or support

Most of West Herts Homes’ vulnerable residents fall into one of the first two categories, but we recognise that needs can change over time. Personal needs will be assessed at least annually, and where appropriate more regularly. 

Definition of abuse

Abuse is a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by another person or persons and may result in significant harm to, or the exploitation of the person subjected to it.

Abuse may consist of a single act or repeated acts;

May be physical, verbal, psychological or emotional;

May be an act of neglect or an omission to act;

May occur when a person is persuaded to enter into a financial or sexual transaction to which they had not consented, or cannot consent;

May be deliberate or unintentional or result from lack of knowledge.

The main categories of abuse are:

  • Psychological
  • Physical
  • Sexual
  • Financial or material
  • Neglect and acts of omission
  • Discriminatory

Institutional Abuse

Institutional abuse is the mistreatment of people brought about by poor or inadequate care or support or systematic poor practice that can affect individuals and a whole group.   It occurs when the individual’s wishes and needs are sacrificed for the smooth running of a group, service or organisation. 

Multiple forms of abuse

Multiple forms of abuse may occur in an ongoing relationship or an abusive service setting to one person, or to more than one person at a time, making it important to look beyond single incidents or breaches in standards, to underlying dynamics and patterns of harm.  Any or all of these types of abuse may be perpetrated as the result of deliberate intent and targeting of vulnerable people, negligence or ignorance.

Where does abuse take place?

Abuse can take place anywhere, including:

  • In a person’s own home
  • In the homes of family and friends
  • In public places/the community
  • Place of work
  • Colleges of further education

Abuse may result from a deliberate intention to cause harm but may also occur where a provider of a service lacks the necessary knowledge or skills to respond to an individual’s needs appropriately.  Abusive behaviour between a member of staff and a vulnerable service user must always be initially investigated under West Herts Homes’  internal Code of Conduct, and where necessary be referred to the County Council Safeguarding Team and the Police.

Perpetrators of abuse

Abuse can occur in any relationship.  An individual, a group, or an organisation may perpetrate abuse.

An abusive relationship often includes the misuse of power by one person over another and is most likely to take place in situations where one person has power over another.  For example, where one person is dependent on another for their physical care, or due to power relationships in society e.g. between a professional worker and a service user, a man and a woman and a person belonging to the dominant race/culture and a person belonging to an ethnic minority.

Mental Capacity

We recognise that capacity and consent are central themes in safeguarding adults  and that every adult has the right to make their own decisions, a person is assumed to have capacity to do so unless it is proved that they do not.

A referral will be made to the local Social Care Team where there are concerns that a person being abused lacks mental capacity lacks so a Mental Capacity Assessment can be made and that person will be informed of this referral.

Best interests

Everything that is done for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be in that person’s best interests.

The Mental Capacity Act 2005 provides a checklist of factors that decision-makers must work through in deciding what is in a person’s best interests.

For further guidance please refer to The Mental Capacity Act 2005.

Confidentiality

Our staff will respect confidentiality at all times and will not share any information given in confidence unless justified by the assessed risk to the vulnerable person or required by law.

Confidentiality will be discussed with the customer where there are safeguarding concerns or alerts and an explanation will be given that this information may need to be shared with other people in order for the situation to be resolved.

Responsibility

As a provider of services to vulnerable adults West Herts Homes has a responsibility and duty to consider and follow the County Council’s Safeguarding Policy, Procedure and Practice Guidance.  The Care Act 2014 reinforces this responsibility which is further defined in the Department of Health publication Care and Support Statutory Guidance.

We not only have a responsibility to all vulnerable adults who have been abused or who are at risk of abuse, but also recognise responsibilities in relation to some perpetrators of abuse.

We will keep confidential and secure records of all safeguarding issues, with access and responsibility limited to the safeguarding lead officer and any other nominees on a strictly “need to know” basis.

Whistleblowing

We will take seriously any matters raised in good faith by employees. Our  Whistleblowing Policy is part of West Herts Homes’ Staff Handbook. We will support and protect any employee who has volunteered information from reprisals or victimisation.

Service standards

We will:

  • Appoint a “Safeguarding Lead”, with appropriate knowledge, experience and skills, to provide help and advice to staff and to act as lead on safeguarding issues
  • Ensure that staff and volunteers are aware of the Safeguarding policy and procedure
  • Ensure that staff are appropriately trained, including induction training for new members of staff
  • Ensure that staff understand their roles and responsibilities and required actions
  • Ensure that managers know when they should alert the Police if they think a crime has been committed
  • Notify the County Council’s Safeguarding Team, in writing,  in their prescribed format, if abuse is identified or suspected
  • Support and where possible safeguard customers and staff by ensuring that all referrals to services have full information in relation to identified risk and vulnerability
  • Ensure that all employees achieve clearance through an enhanced DBS check, prior to working with our service users; that these checks are carried out every 2 years; and that for staff who are in regularly in contact with service users, in their homes, that DBS checks are carried out annually
  • Ensure that staff and customers have access to information through in house publications and other media, and awareness raising initiatives
  • To conduct regular reviews of the Safeguarding policy/ procedures and maintain a secure record of all incidents.
  • Performance Measures

The Management team will review the operation of this policy on a regular basis.

The Board will receive an annual report, in September each year, on:

The number of Safeguarding Adult referrals

  • An annual review of Safeguarding – including monitoring implementation, interagency response, training record and review of policy and procedure
  • An evaluation of investigated cases and alerts and lessons learnt

Reviewing and Monitoring

We will review and monitor this policy and our working arrangements with other agencies/departments annually to ensure they remain effective highlighting any disincentives to reporting abuse. In the event of a serious case review the policy and procedure will be reviewed as priority.

This policy was agreed by the Board in January 2017, and will be reviewed during 2019.