Whistleblowing is the act of speaking out about wrongdoing in the workplace.

Adults with learning disabilities are particularly vulnerable to abuse and care staff play an important role in
witnessing and reporting abuse. Research and inquiries into this issue reveal that whistleblowing on abuse is fraught with difficulties, but that it is essential in protecting vulnerable adults.

In response to the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, most employers have developed whistleblowing policies to enable workers to raise concerns. However, little is known about how whistleblowing legislation interacts with adult protection procedures, nor whether it is succeeding in protecting staff and the people with learning disabilities whom they work with.

“Blowing the Whistle on Abuse of Adults with Learning Disabilities” was a 2005 research project by Rebecca Calcraft of ACT, funded by the Baily Thomas Charitable Fund.

Aims and Objectives

This study aimed to find out how whistleblowing in social care settings can help to protect people with learning disabilities from abuse.

The objectives of the research were to:

  • Map current whistleblowing policy and practice.
  • Explore the experience of care staff who have whistleblown on abuse of adults with learning disabilities.
  • Identify the barriers to whistleblowing on abuse.
  • Identify ‘best practice’, difficult issues and make recommendations on how whistleblowers and adults with learning disabilities can be best protected.

You can read the final version of this report here.

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