Safeguarding: what does it mean to you?

This week is National Adults Safeguarding Week. The aim of the week is to create conversations and spread awareness about keeping vulnerable adults safe from abuse.

Adult Safeguarding, as defined by the 2014 Care Act is “working with adults with care and support needs to keep them safe from abuse or neglect.” It is an important part of what many public services do, and a key responsibility of local authorities.

Organisations take different approaches to implementing this into everyday support. We asked what safeguarding means to a selection of senior managers, as well as our Sense User Reference Group (SURG). SURG gives people living with complex disabilities the opportunity to share their views of Sense and our services.

Sense User Reference Group

“Being in my flat, and the staff in the house are there to help.”

“When I go out shopping with staff support I feel safe and I wear a hi-vis jacket when I go out at night.”

 “I have a pager that lets me know when someone is at my door and staff ring the bell and say ‘good morning’.”

 “When I use taxis I know the driver and it makes me feel safe.”

“I like to have staff who can sign to me, and communicate with me using signing, gives me confidence in them.”

“Being with someone I know (support worker) and I would speak to them if something goes wrong.”

“Having someone with me who understands my health needs.”

“Previously I lived in flat in which I felt unsafe, have now moved to a new flat and supported, I now feel much safer.”

“Having regular familiar staff who have good values and can sign.”

Richard Kramer, Sense CEO …

“Safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility at Sense.  All staff, volunteers, and any other adults supporting the work of Sense are expected to do everything they can to protect individuals from harm, to work with them in a supportive and positive way and to make the environment safe. We have very clear policies and procedures and benefit from the added scrutiny of the Safeguarding Board. Anyone who has reason to believe that an individual is at risk of harm has a legal and moral duty to follow up their concerns through the proper channels. It is always better to be wrong than not to have acted.”

Jonathan Monk, Director of Operations …

“We often use the terms ‘safeguarding’ and ‘protection’ interchangeably – safeguarding is what we should all do as part of our everyday work; protection is how we respond when things have gone wrong.  Safeguarding is about creating an environment where people are not only safe from harm, abuse and exploitation but also where they have choice, control and information to protect themselves or take risks.  The emphasis on making safeguarding personal requires us to think differently about how we safeguard the people we support and shifts the balance of power to the individual themselves so that safeguarding is not something that is done to a person; but instead, is a partnership that the person is involved in and has a say over how they are kept safe.  At Sense, we take our responsibilities for safeguarding extremely seriously and our experience of person centred approaches puts us in a strong position to make safeguarding personal.  Taking part in National Safeguarding Week gives us all an opportunity to reflect on how we involve people in safeguarding and how, when we are required to respond to concerns, that we do it in as personalised way as possible.”

Steve Kiekopf, Head of Safeguarding …

“Safeguarding is not just acting when things go wrong. It is about listening to the people we support, and for individuals who communicate differently recognising when things are going wrong giving them an equal  ‘voice’ and involving them in what they want to happen. We need to be providing people with the skills to feel safe and free to live the life they choose and have control when things go wrong. Fundamentally, no one is vulnerable, it is the actions or non-actions of others that makes an individual vulnerable.”

Bridget Warr, Independent chair of Sense safeguarding board

“Safeguarding is in my view the fundamental baseline of quality services.  It is focussed on respecting and encouraging appropriate, informed positive risk-taking and is not about over-protectiveness.  It is crucial to our respect for the individual and enhancement of independence and is fuelled by our care and concern for people. It should also be different in its support for each person as there are significant variations in what makes each of us feel safe or unsafe.”

Maria Horton, Group Director of Operations

“What safeguarding means to me is the actions that are taken to protect vulnerable groups from harm. This harm might come from adults or other children and, as someone working closely with vulnerable groups, it’s important for us to understand what safeguarding is and why it’s important. It’s about people and organisations working together to prevent and reduce both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect. It also means making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is supported and their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs are respected when agreeing on any action.”

Let us know what safeguarding means to you.

Steve Kiekopf.

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