How to Safeguard People Who Use Health or Social Care Services

As part of the Care Quality Commission’s regulations, health and social care organisations are required to demonstrate that they can safeguard their service users against abuse. The regulations say specifically that there should be suitable arrangements in place to allow for identifying the possibility of abuse, preventing it occurring and responding appropriately to any allegations of abuse. The term abuse can refer to any form of abuse such as sexual, physical, psychological, theft or neglect. There are also definite requirements with respect to the use of restraining practices to ensure that they are lawful and appropriate.

As a service provider there are a number of things that you can do to ensure that you are implementing all available reasonable steps to safeguard your service users. These include:

Training staff to understand the aspects of the safeguarding process that are relevant to them, and ensuring that staff understand the signs of abuse, and that they know what to do and who to approach if they suspect or are alerted to abuse. This includes ensuring that staff take all allegations of abuse seriously, and that they deal with any allegations or complaints fairly, treating the service user with respect and dignity. Staff should also be trained in the correct and lawful use of restraint procedures.

Educating service users to be aware of what is acceptable and what is classed as abuse. Additionally service users need to be informed about how they can report abuse and they should be encouraged to feel that his option is a real choice for them. Promoting rights and choices is specifically referred to in the Care Quality Commission’s guidance and should be taken very seriously in order to safeguard services users against abuse.

Safeguarding policies will ensure that the organisation and the registered manager are able to deal with allegations of abuse appropriately and formally. All actions in relation to the reporting of and dealing with abuse should be recorded in a formal record as per your safeguarding policies. These policies should align with national guidance and legislation.

Working collaboratively with other services, agencies and teams will also help to minimise the risk of abuse occurring and ensure a streamlined approach to safeguarding within your area.

All service users are at risk of abuse, not just those individuals that are considered to be vulnerable such as those with disabilities or the elderly. It is therefore essential that every health or social care provider looks to address safeguarding issues within their organisation.