To safeguard vulnerable individuals is to take actions that will reduce or prevent the risk of harm, abuse or neglect that could happen to those individuals who are vulnerable to these actions, while also being able to support them to maintain their right to independence. A service that provides support for these individuals will have strict safeguarding policies and procedures in place that the health and social care practitioners who provide the service for the individuals must know to be able to provide the ultimate service to support these vulnerable individuals with their needs.
3.1.: Explain factors that may contribute to an individual being vulnerable to harm or abuse.
When safeguarding individuals it is important that health and social care practitioners are aware of the factors that could contribute to that individual possibly becoming vulnerable to harm, abuse or neglect so they are able to take the correct precautions to prevent that individual becoming a victim of these actions. There are two categories these factors can come under and those are environmental and individualistic.
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For environmental factors, it could mean that the ‘environment’/setting that these individuals are in could contribute to the individual becoming vulnerable to harm, abuse or neglect; for example, if the individuals residence is in a secluded area then it could be a high possibility that they may become a victim to harm, abuse or neglect because it will not be noticed by a significant amount of people because of the location of their residence. If an individual uses a service where the health and social care practitioners have a lack in training, they are not supported well by their mentors and a lack of monitoring the work ethic of practitioners, can increase the likelihood of an individual becoming vulnerable to harm, abuse or neglect. For example, if an individual lives in an assisted living residence due to not having the mental capacity, because of a mental illness or other conditions, to make decisions about their own safety; if the staff of the residence are not trained in that area of mental illness and conditions then they may work in a way that will not promote the individuals well-being or value the needs of that individual due to lacking the knowledge of those conditions. The result of this would be that the individual could challenge the staff who provide their care and assistance in saying that their care and assistance is not enough for what they need support with. This in turn can have an impact upon the staff’s stress levels and can result in the staff becoming agitated with the individual which can cause them to become vulnerable to harm, abuse or neglect. Another example of a environmental factor would be that if a nursery nurse feels that they have unreasonable workloads or feel that they are not being supported well by their management then it could effected their work ethic and cause them to work in an unprofessional manner; this could result in the children who attend that nursery to be placed in, unknown to their caregivers, a position that makes them vulnerable to harm, abuse or neglect due to the nursery nurse not carrying out their roles correctly.
For individualistic factors, it can mean that the care and support an individual need due to the very nature of their needs, such as mental health conditions and dementia, can be more vulnerable to harm, abuse or neglect. These individuals who suffer with these types of conditions may be reluctant in reporting the incident(s) as the health and social care practitioners who support them with their day-to-day living may lose their jobs or that the service that is provided to them because of their needs could be withdrawn. If an individual has communication difficulties because of a disability or illness could become vulnerable to harm, abuse or neglect because they struggle to communicate what has happened to them which makes them an easy target for an abuser. Similarly, individuals who suffer with certain conditions such as mental health illnesses or dementia are at a higher risk of becoming a victim to harm, abuse or neglect. For example, if the individual has been diagnosed with dementia then they can be highly vulnerable due to having trouble with remembering events that have occurred. This would make them an easy target for an abuser because they know that the vulnerable individual is unlikely to be able to recollect the incident that has occurred and therefore be unable to tell anyone about it. Another example would be that if an individual suffers from a mental health condition then this can lead to other behaviours that are linked to their condition and this can result in extra support for their needs; the by-product of this would be more stress upon the health and social care practitioners who provide the support for the individual.
1.3.: Explain how health and social care practitioners can take steps to safeguard themselves.
As well as having the responsibility of safeguarding the individuals they provide a service for, health and social care practitioners also have a duty to safeguard themselves from accusations which could include behaving in an unprofessional manner or causing harm, abuse or neglect to a vulnerable individual who they provide support and care for. Therefore, practitioners who work within the health and social care sector must follow their work setting’s policies and procedures and the Code of Conduct for Healthcare Support Workers and Adult Social Care Workers in England which explains how practitioners can not cause harm to an individual which can effect their well-being and health, and that they must not harm, abuse or neglect individuals who they provide support and care for. Practitioners who work within the health and social care sector have to have a good awareness of what safeguarding is and by having knowledge of what it is they will also have good knowledge of the six principles; this includes Empowerment, Prevention, Proportionality, Protection, Partnership and Accountability. These principles have influence over the everyday workings of a practice and are another way that help health and social care practitioners to safeguard themselves. For health and social care practitioners to safeguard and protect themselves the choices, actions and decisions they make must be fair when they are working with the individuals, they provide care and support for. But at the same time these choices, actions and decisions the practitioners make must still fall into the guidelines of the agreed work ethic of the organisation they work for and must not put themselves in any unsafe situations that could potentially cause harm to themselves.
1.2.: Explain the role of safeguarding
When safeguarding individual’s health and social care practitioners must consider how to keep individuals safe, to value the individuals needs, and to always protect the individuals who they are providing care and support for.
Safeguarding concerns organisations and practitioners with working together to be able to prevent individuals becoming victims of harm, abuse or neglect, and to do this they have to share the individual’s personal information about their care and their needs they have support with. And this is to keep the individual safe. A consequence of not following this would be the example of Victoria Climbie. She was an 8 year old girl who was tortured and murdered after being placed into the care of her great aunt and the woman’s boyfriend by her parents, and her information about hospital visits and concern reports not being shared between organisations later resulted in her death due to actions not being taken sooner to keep her safe from the abuse she was suffering.
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Person-centred care is an approach which is valued in safeguarding; this is recognising an individuals needs, perspectives and preferences, and these have to be the main focus of their care plans and the support which is provided. Because of this an individual will have good knowledge of the high-quality care and support they should receive and as a result of this they are able to oversee their care, and there is a decrease in the likelihood of them becoming vulnerable to harm, abuse or neglect. By giving an individual this incentive it will lead to them gaining more independence and when they have concerns about the care and support, that they are being provided with, they are more likely to speak willingly about these concerns.
Protecting individuals also comes under safeguarding. This is stated along the lines of the Care Act 2014 where each of the local authorities, such as the police, probation services, healthcare and social services, are required to take the main hold of responsibility when it comes to protecting individuals from harm, abuse or neglect. The practitioners and staff of the authorities do this through several ways; the first being that they will overlook and help to organise the safeguarding of the individual who they are providing care and support for, then if there are any concerns when it comes to there being risks to the individual becoming vulnerable to harm, abuse or neglect they have an obligation to investigate it, and the staff and practitioners who are involved in the individuals care will decide upon the right actions to take when it comes to preventing future harm, abuse or neglect and this will be done within the organisations policies and procedures. Together they establish a Safeguarding Adults Board, and they will also ensure that when an individual is going through a safeguarding process, they will have representation. Lastly, all staff and practitioners will work together alongside the individual, who requires the care and support, in partnership.
- CACHE Technical Level 3 Extended Diploma in Health and Social Care (2017) [TEXTBOOK] [Accessed 24th/25th November 2019]
- Hampshiresab. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.hampshiresab.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Factors-which-increase-a-person-vulnerability-to-abuse-.pdf [Accessed 24th November 2019]
- High Speed Training. (2018) [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.highspeedtraining.co.uk/hub/what-is-safeguarding/ [Accessed 25th November 2019]
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