As the Covid-19 pandemic continues, safeguarding remains a particularly poignant topic amongst the health and care community. Though necessary to slow the rate of transmission, preventive measures such as national lockdowns, social-distancing, restricted travel and closures of schools have led to a dramatic increase in domestic violence. Many family violence victims are currently facing a ‘worst case’ scenario as they find themselves trapped at home during a time of severely limited contact with the outside world.
Reports of increasing rates of domestic violence are being recorded across the globe as countries continue to try to curb the spread of the pandemic. Here in the UK, there was a rise of 49% in the number of calls to domestic abuse services, an estimated 380 calls a week to the police and 16 homicides related to domestic abuse in the first month after strict social-distancing was enforced.
As many in the healthcare community are already aware, it has become increasingly difficult to identify signs of neglect or both physical and mental abuse when caring for patients. There are fewer touchpoints to assess patients due to lockdown restrictions and it’s harder to stay alert for indications that they may be at risk.
Safeguarding your patients should always be at the forefront of your mind and at Medical Staffing, we provide ongoing support and guidance so that you are always properly equipped to deal with such a difficult topic. We understand that raising a safeguarding concern can be traumatic and our Head of Clinical Performance is here to offer support. We know how important it is to provide exceptional patient care and we strive to equip you with the appropriate training to do so, whilst ensuring you care for your own mental health and wellbeing.
What is safeguarding adults?
All healthcare staff have a responsibility to promote the safety and wellbeing of patients and protect them from harm. Living a life free from neglect and abuse is a fundamental human right and an essential requirement for health and welfare. It also means ensuring patients are supported and that additional measures are provided for those least able to protect themselves.
The aims of safeguarding children and vulnerable adults:
●To prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect amongst the most vulnerable
●To ensure individuals are supported and their beliefs respected so they can control how to live their lives
●To raise awareness of the signs of abuse or neglect so that the public can play their part in preventing, identifying and responding to safeguarding issues
What should you do if you think there is an issue requiring safeguarding children and vulnerable adults?
The specific practice or facility should have its own policy regarding safeguarding procedures that you should check first, but where abuse of a vulnerable patient is suspected their welfare takes priority. Here is a rough guide when assessing the risks:
Your assessment must be holistic and thorough, taking the patient’s emotional, social, religious, psychological and physical presentation into consideration. If you feel you have valid reasons to act even without the patient's consent, for example if other vulnerable adults or children are at risk, then it is important to do so. It is down to you to read the signs and identify any environmental factors so that you can act in the patient’s best interest.
Make sure you remain calm and listen carefully, disguising any signs of shock or disbelief. Acknowledge what is being said but don’t ask any probing or leading questions which may affect credibility of evidence. Seek their consent to share the information whilst analysing the risks to you, them or others. You may share information without consent if it is in the public interest in order to prevent crime or protect others from harm.
By following your facility’s safeguarding policy and procedures, report any concerns of suspected or actual abuse immediately. Be sure to document the information clearly and concisely so that other professionals can read the form and understand the key issues.
Make a factual and accurate record of the actions you took and why, to demonstrate transparent and defensible decision making. It is important to record the capacity in which the assessment was made to ensure the patient’s best interests are considered and the best possible outcome achieved.
Support for clinicians for NHS safeguarding adults:
We understand that raising a safeguarding concern can be very challenging and even traumatic for a clinician. Making the decision to step in and remove someone from physical or emotional abuse and a wide range of other scenarios can take a toll on your mental health.
To support our clinicians raising safeguarding concerns we are looking into creating a discussion group for the safeguarding process with clinical supervision and a support network to assist and guide you through the process. If you are interested in being a part of this group, please email our Head of Clinical Performance, Lorraine Gray. A former RGN and Matron, Lorraine has over 10 years in senior executive roles in IUC and NHS 111 services and today leverages her operational and clinical experience to offer balanced delivery solutions and insights for our clinicians.
If you have any further questions about safeguarding or even how you can source locum or clinician work in primary or acute care - or even via remote telemedicine working shifts - we would be happy to talk to you about it!