Working with vulnerable adults – The importance of safeguarding

If you work with vulnerable adults you will already know about the importance of safeguarding. The people within your care are often frail, weak or immobile. Some people may suffer with mental health problems. Some may have learning difficulties. They are extremely vulnerable and will rely heavily on their carer to support their needs and so it is hugely important that safeguarding policies are in place and that their care is to a high standard.

Working with vulnerable adults means work where the normal duties involve or are likely to involve being in sole charge of such persons. A vulnerable adult means a person aged eighteen or over who have a condition of the following type:

1.      a substantial learning or physical disability;

2.      a physical or mental illness or mental disorder, chronic or otherwise, including an addiction to alcohol or drugs; or

3.      a significant reduction in physical or mental capacity.

The definition of Safeguarding essentially means protecting people’s health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.

A stringent safe guarding policy should be in place for staff members to follow and a copy available for anyone to read on request.

Safeguarding is now considered such an important subject that it has been reflected in national legislation and the UK Government has set out some principles of safeguarding in health and social care that help us to understand how we can act to protect vulnerable adults. Those principles are:

  • empowerment – people should be supported to make their own decisions based on the best possible information
  • prevention – it is better to take action before harm occurs
  • proportionality – what we do should be proportionate to the risk: we don’t want to be over-protective if the risk is low, as this in itself can disadvantage people and deprive of them of the opportunity to make their own decisions
  • protection – those in greatest need require our support and protection
  • partnership – safeguarding is about different people, professions, groups and communities working together to cover all the angles in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse
  • accountability – as in all our activities as health care assistants, we need to be accountable for what we do in safeguarding.

You must have access to good training which is regularly updated as policies and standards change and evolve. If you work with vulnerable adults and are not sure what your safeguarding policy is please discuss this with your management.

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