Learn News Opinion

Changing the culture of adult safeguarding

Jim Thomas Programme Head Workforce Innovation Skills for Care

Make safeguarding everyone’s business

Enabling people to have choice and control over their own lives brings lots of benefits – in fact restricting people’s independence can be a form of abuse.

Too often personalisation and safeguarding are seen to be in conflict with each other. For example, when individuals have different views of ‘risk’ to commissioners, providers or their own relatives. Or when ‘outsiders’ assume that people who access care and support should live their lives in a particular way – such as not going out alone or having a certain level of personal hygiene.

This can lead to safeguarding practices focusing more on policies and processes rather than person-centred care.  To ensure this doesn’t happen, adult social care employers need to change the culture of adult safeguarding and put personalisation at the heart of it. This approach should balance an individual’s choice with risk management and safeguarding, to ensure the best outcomes for the people you support.

 Adult safeguarding is more than paperwork – it requires a set of attitudes and values about the way we treat others.

Everyone who comes into contact with your service, including people who work and live there and their families, should understand these values and know when to act and what to do if they suspect someone is being abused or neglected. This ensures that any concerns are raised quickly and through the correct processes, reducing the risk of it escalating.

Good communication is key! You should have a continuous dialogue about safeguarding in care planning, supervisions and team meetings. You could also include information in your welcome pack, induction and your workforce strategy.

 Open and honest culture built on trust

Good communication will only happen where people feel comfortable to talk openly and honestly about any concerns they have, without the fear of repercussions.

To do this, trust needs to flow throughout the service. People who access care and support, their families and staff need to trust that leaders will act on their concerns, and leaders need to trust and respect their staff’s judgement.

Staff also need to be confident that if they’re open about making mistakes, they’ll be supported. If they don’t feel like they can admit when things go wrong, this develops a culture of fear, secrecy and blame which challenges effective safeguarding.

Involve people who access care and support

When you’re thinking about adult safeguarding, involve people who access care and support in discussions about their own safety – ask them what makes them feel safe and document this in their care plan.

Instead of focusing on restricting people’s choices, use risk assessments to support people to have as much freedom and control as possible.

A great example of this is from Thistle Hill Hall who feature in our ‘Good and outstanding care’ guide. They told us:

“We try very hard to ensure we’re able to alleviate risks while also supporting dignity and independence. By discretely implementing safety mechanisms for kitchen appliances we’ve been able to provide people with independence and also a safety net if needed, in a manner which hasn’t left them feeling discriminated against nor ‘different.”

Share learning in your service

Reflecting after a safeguarding incident can be invaluable and help you avoid potential safeguarding incidents in the future.

You could do this through team meetings, learning and development, case studies, newsletters and blogs.

You might also share them with local care networks – knowing how other people would respond can help you anticipate and solve incidents.

Find out more

We’ve updated our ‘Guide to adult safeguarding’ for leaders or managers, which explains some of the key aspects of adult safeguarding in your service. Download it from www.skillsforcare.org.uk/safeguarding.







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