When considering future care options for yourself or a loved one, you may have heard the term “safeguarding”, and wondered what it means. Simply put, safeguarding describes protecting people’s health, wellbeing, and human rights, while enabling them to live free from harm, abuse, and neglect. This vital tenet of care also encompasses respecting their wishes, feelings, and beliefs, when entering into any action.
Safeguarding is a foundational component, and fundamentally a responsibility for all who enter into the provision of professional care. By placing these principles at the very heart of our roles in caring for the elderly, we can ensure the dignity and wellbeing of all who place their trust in our hands.
A Proactive Approach to Safeguarding
A framework for the safeguarding of adults is defined in the Care Act of 2014, and the responsibility for regulating the resulting safeguarding standards falls to the Care Quality Commission. This body also have a duty to take action when concern is raised about a vulnerable adult. However, the primary role of safeguarding the wellbeing of those receiving care lies with carers themselves, and the organisations they answer to.
Seniors who are in need of daily support from carers are also often at a stage in their life where they may be more vulnerable, and perhaps unable to prevent their own neglect, harm, or exploitation. With this in mind, care provision must always include exemplary training to ensure both a full understanding of how to deliver exceptional care, and how to spot indications of mistreatment by others. Thorough vetting of care professionals, and continuing support of carers in their safeguarding role is vital.
Knowing The Safeguarding Signs
The types of issues that safeguarding shields our loved ones against include any form of neglect, and abuse that may be deliberate or accidental. Examples might include emotional mistreatment, malnutrition, pressure sores (bed sores), preventable falls, and other forms of physical harm. Alongside its reference to the role of the carer themselves, safeguarding additionally includes looking out for indications of family abuse, financial abuse of any kind, and mistreatment from others within the life of the care recipient.
Safeguarding should not impede or restrict the independence of those receiving care unnecessarily, but rather hold the assurance of their wellbeing under the spotlight each and every day. Worrying signs to watch out for include changes in the demeanour of the senior receiving care, signs of stress, bruises, weight fluctuations, and many more. Following diligent training on what should be taken as a warning, carers should always approach the wellbeing of our elders with an alert and compassionate eye.
Critical Safeguarding Steps
All care providers, whether operating in a care home setting, or placing carers in the homes of those in need of support, take their first safeguarding step at the recruitment stage. Carers should be submitted to a thorough DBS check, diligent vetting, and an interview process that carefully assesses their character and capacity.
Providing care is a profession that should only be entered by those who are passionate about actively supporting and promoting the wellbeing of the individuals they work with. Care provision organisations can further support this role by always pairing carers and clients with attentive thought, and the aim of fostering a strong rapport.
Strong training and clear policies in relation to safeguarding are an absolute must. On a most basic level, a deep understanding of how to physically handle those who may be frail, knowledge of how to maintain beds and equipment, impeccable hygiene practices, management of medications, and awareness of hot or dangerous substances or surfaces serve as foundational. Moving further, training should also include forging the skills to monitor relationships for signs that may give cause for concern and to encourage care recipients to feel that they can always speak up and speak freely about anything that may be causing them distress.
While on paper, safeguarding can and should be strategically defined, within the everyday lives of those who give and receive care it is a hugely personal undertaking. Safeguarding integrates clearly outlined policies, deep human empathy, and the building of trusting relationships both between carer and client, and between the carer and the loved ones of those being supported. When seeking a carer to enter the life of you or someone close to you, always ensure that safeguarding is placed among the highest principles of the service provided. You and your loved ones deserve no less.