Recognising abuse is important. Acting on concerns is vital. But it’s just as important that you keep a record of all safeguarding concerns in your organisation.
There are 10 types of harm, and as part of your duty of care, you should learn to recognise the signs of abuse. If you have any concerns, you should record them, and report them to the appropriate person, authority, or organisation.
This is where a safeguarding policy will help. It should be accessible to everyone. You can define the procedures for reporting, and ensure that they’re communicated and integrated across your organisation. That way, you can let all staff know their responsibilities in recognising, reporting and recording safeguarding issues.
Your safeguarding policy should outline:
- How to record concerns.
- Who to record to.
- What action will follow.
You could create a safeguarding reporting form to ensure that you receive all the information you need for accurate and useful reporting.
Note that poor practice concerns need to be recorded as well as instances of more serious abuse. This is because, if you don’t address them, frequent poor practice incidents can escalate into more serious situations.
Communication is essential. The way that you or your organisation document and keep records can make all the difference. Whether through individual log books or shift reports, sharing information can build a picture that could help identify poor practice or abuse. A good care plan means that staff can understand the needs of each person being supported by the service.
It is also important that you record the right kind of information. A person’s demeanour, what they are wearing, or what they have eaten that day can all be tell-tale signs of abuse. Patterns of behaviour are also a good way to check wellbeing. For example, an individual may behave different whenever a certain member of staff is present. Could this mean they’re being bullied?
Recording should be impartial. So write down what you see and not what you feel.
Whenever a concern is raised, consider the available evidence, and whether you need to gather any additional evidence. You should retain any physical evidence to keep it safe from tampering. This is yet another process you could outline in your policy. Also keep records of relevant evidence that you may need at a later date.
As part of your policy, you should review regularly the numbers and types of concerns raised. Any significant differences in reporting from one quarter to the next need to be considered and evaluated.
Local authorities, the Charities Commission and the Care Quality Commission each have varying reporting requirements. So it is important that you know the legal requirements of each, and report to them in a timely fashion.
Local authorities do not share the same thresholds for reporting. So while in one county they may accept a safeguarding referral, in another they may not. Take some time to understand your local authorities reporting thresholds.
Different Roles and Different Levels of Responsibility
Support workers must report any abuse or poor practice to their manager. If the abuse or poor practice carries on, then support workers should report their concerns to a more senior manager. Support workers can also report their concerns directly to the local authority adult safeguarding team, or directly to the Care Quality Commission.
Front Line Managers
Front line managers must give staff clear guidance about how to do their job. This can help prevent abuse from happening in the first place. If poor practice does take place, managers must tell staff what has to change. If abuse takes place, front line managers must report to senior managers. Front line managers can report their concerns directly to the local authority adult safeguarding team, as well as directly to the Care Quality Commission.
Senior managers must act on any reports of abuse. They must report all alleged abuse to the local authority adult safeguarding team, and they must help that team with any investigation. If staff are found to have abused the people they support, they will face disciplinary action. If a crime has been committed, then staff may be suspended while the police investigate.
Local Authority Adult Safeguarding Teams
Local authority adult safeguarding teams have to investigate safeguarding concerns. They can ask for staff to be suspended from work while they investigate the abuse. They can also recommend changes to the way that support is provided. The local authority will report allegations of abuse to the police if they think that a crime has been committed.
Care Quality Commission
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is the independent regulator for health and adult social care in England. It sets standards that all care homes and home care services must meet. The CQC has the power to shut down services which do not meet the required standards.
What Happens When One of the Organisations Investigate Safeguarding Concerns?
Once a concern’s been raise, the organisation’s policy and procedures should set out how to report and investigate it. If the local authority accepts the safeguarding referral they will have responsibility to investigate. This is called an enquiry, and they may ask you to assist with it. If they do not accept the referral, your organisation may decide to do an internal investigation. The process for this needs to be both clear and transparent, with defined roles and responsibilities for everyone involved.
To self-assess your safeguarding knowledge, policy and procedures, complete the checklist online here.
Already completed this assessment and want to further your knowledge? Check out our list of useful resources and guides:
An essential guide to writing a safeguarding policy. Learn more.
“Nothing about me without me.” A guide to making safeguarding personal. Read it here.
Creating a process to report and refer. Learn more.
Your organisation’s evaluation and action plan. Learn more.
A directory of useful organisations and contacts. Learn more.
A good example of an organisation’s reporting form from MacIntyre. Download here.
MacIntyre’s safeguarding policies information sheet. Download here
Want to know more about reviewing and assessing your safeguarding policy? Click here.