Safeguarding is a term commonly used among various employment and educational sectors, providing a large amount of training and awareness to any staff it may affect.
The following article explains why safeguarding is an essential practice for everybody to adopt and how its six principles are vital in keeping everybody safe.
What is Safeguarding?
Safeguarding primarily ensures that the health, well-being and human rights of children and vulnerable adults are protected at all times.
The six principles of safeguarding are derived from ‘the 2014 Care Act.’ This act has not been revised since the 1950s, less than ten years after the end of World War Two. Hence, following the war, there was an astonishing amount of care procedures that needed updating.
‘Vulnerable adults’ is an umbrella term used to describe different people with medical, physical and emotional conditions. These conditions may include, but aren't limited to: mentally or physically disabled people, chronically or terminally ill individuals, elderly people and people who have a mental illness.
The basis on which somebody is classified as a vulnerable adult is determined case-by-case.
The Six Safeguarding Principles
There are six safeguarding principles that are essential to keeping children and vulnerable adults. Teaching, understanding and following the following six principles are vital to the well-being of the individuals at risk and those surrounding them.
Vulnerable people should be empowered to make their own decisions and be given the full extent of information in order to do so.
All services and decisions should take place with the individual’s best interests in mind. Following the principle of empowerment means that the individual’s thoughts, feelings and opinions are taken into consideration.
The only instance where this may not be possible is if the individual lacks the capacity to make their own decisions. As stated in the Mental Capacity Act 2005, all individuals should always have control over their own choices.
It is essential that action is taken to prevent further harm to individuals where possible signs of abuse, harm or neglect could occur.
It is absolutely vital that everybody is able to recognise the signs of abuse, harm and neglect. The earlier the signs are recognised, the more likely the exploitation can be avoided. It’s always best to prevent something from happening rather than trying to cure things after the fact.
It is also important to raise awareness of who may be more likely to become vulnerable so that these individuals can be protected.
In the unfortunate event that a safeguarding issue needs to be raised, it is essential that it is done so in the correct manner, ensuring that investigative efforts are proportionate to the risk presented in the report.
Every risk raised needs to be investigated thoroughly, using the least intrusive method possible. Some reports may be lower risk than others which may, for example, cause an individual’s life to be in danger. This would, of course, constitute a more urgent and invasive response.
The protection principle should ensure that those surrounding vulnerable adults and children should protect from any harm.
Organizations and individuals who come into contact with those at a greater risk of abuse and neglect should ensure that they remain current on the latest policies and procedures for reporting and investigating safeguarding issues.
The partnership principle encourages organisations and local communities to collaborate and support one another to keep everybody safe. It is everybody’s responsibility within a community to recognise and report the signs of abuse.
It is permitted for organisations to share information regarding an individual only if it is relevant to keeping them safe.
Organisations should be absolutely certain that it is necessary for the safety of the individual to release this information before doing so.
Everybody within a community must understand that it is their responsibility to understand and practice awareness of the safeguarding procedures as much as the next person.
It is important that some individuals in the community have established roles and responsibilities and know what to do should a safeguarding incident occur.
There must be a clear guide for these individuals to refer to, to ensure that the procedures are taking place correctly.
Why are the 6 Principles of Safeguarding Important?
The six principles of safeguarding are crucial to preventing abuse and neglect from occurring.
Not only does adhering to all six principles mean preventing all types of abuse, it means ensuring the best possible level of care is given to the community.
Every organisation should ensure that all staff and volunteers have the knowledge they need in order to provide support and protection to vulnerable individuals in the community.
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