Understanding Safeguarding

Safeguarding Together 2019 refers to the definition of abuse as set out in the UK Care Act 2014 which sets out abuse as: 

Protecting an adult’s right to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect. It is about people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action. This must recognise that adults sometimes have complex interpersonal relationships and may be ambivalent, unclear or unrealistic about their personal circumstances. 

And Adult Services (with partners) must act:

when it has ‘reasonable cause to suspect that an adult in its area (whether or not ordinarily resident there):

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the authority is meeting any of those needs),
  • is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect, and
  • as a result of those needs is unable to protect himself or herself against the abuse or neglect or the risk of it.’ (UK Care Act 2014, section 42) 

Adult issues such as poor mental health, substance misuse issues, learning disabilities or illnesses such as Alzheimer’s or dementia may make some individuals more vulnerable to abuse. 

There are six principles, taken from the Care Act, which apply to all practice by workers working in health and care settings with vulnerable adults. These are:

1. Empowerment

People being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and informed consent

2. Prevention

It is better to take action before harm occurs.

3. Proportionality

The least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented

4. Protection

Support and representation for those in greatest need

5. Partnership

Local solutions through services working with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.

6. Accountability

Accountability and transparency in safeguarding practice.