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Safeguarding in social care: what you need to know

May 16, 2023
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Find out more about what safeguarding is in social care, what some of the regulations are and how to effectively develop top safeguarding skills in your care team. Let’s go!

What is safeguarding in Social Care

Safeguarding is a term used in social care to describe the measures taken to protect vulnerable individuals from harm, abuse, or neglect. This can include the protection of children, young people, and adults who may be at risk due to their age, disability, mental health, or other factors. 

Put simply, safeguarding means identifying potential risks and taking action to prevent unnecessary harm from occurring. This can involve a range of activities, including risk assessments, staff training, policies and procedures, monitoring, and reporting incidents of abuse or neglect.

The aim of safeguarding is to prioritise the welfare of vulnerable individuals, and ensure they are able to live their lives free from harm as much as possible. It is a fundamental part of social care practice and essential for ensuring individuals receive a baseline level of support and protection.

Psst! What’s the difference between Safeguarding and safeguarding?

The two are often used interchangeably, but actually mean different things! When it appears with a small letter, as in ‘safeguarding’, it refers to the general practice of making people are protected from avoidable abuse or harm. When it appears with a capital letter, as in ‘Safeguarding’, it is more likely referring to a formal safeguarding policy or mandatory training.

Laws and Regulations for Safeguarding Practices

In the UK, there are several laws and regulations that govern safeguarding across social care. Here are some of the key legislations and guidelines that have been put in place to keep the people safe:

  1. Care Act 2014: This is the primary legislation governing adult social care in England! It sets out a clear legal framework for safeguarding adults at risk of abuse or neglect, including those receiving domiciliary care.
  2. Mental Capacity Act 2005: This legislation provides a framework for decision-making on behalf of individuals who may lack capacity to make decisions for themselves - from a safeguarding standpoint, it also includes provisions to protect these vulnerable individuals from abuse or neglect.
  3. The Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2014: These regulations set out the general fundamental standards that all health and social care providers, including domiciliary care providers, must meet. They cover various aspects of care, which includes safeguarding from abuse or improper treatment.
  4. Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006: This act established the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS), which provides checks on individuals working with vulnerable groups, such as children or adults at risk. It helps ensure that those with a history of abuse or misconduct are not employed in roles that involve caring for vulnerable individuals.
  5. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) Regulations: The CQC is the independent regulator of health and social care services in England. They set standards and inspect domiciliary care providers to ensure they meet the required levels of safety and quality, including safeguarding standards. One of their key categories they inspect in is safety; find out more about that on their website here
  6. Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) Safeguarding Adults: Roles and Responsibilities Guidance: This guidance provides information on the roles and responsibilities of all of the different individuals and organisations involved in safeguarding adults, including those working within domiciliary care providers. It also outlines the processes for identifying, reporting, and responding to concerns of abuse or neglect.

It's very important for domiciliary care providers to be familiar with these laws and regulations, and to implement policies and procedures that align with safeguarding requirements. It might seem like a lot of rules to keep up with and regulations to follow, but they have been put in place to make sure that everyone receiving care can feel confident that they are not going to be put at unnecessary risk.

In addition to the above, local authorities may have their own specific guidelines and procedures for safeguarding in domiciliary care provision - so make sure to check your local authority website for more information.

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Establishing Effective Social Care Safeguarding Policies

Here are some simple steps that domiciliary care providers, as well as any social care provider, can take to manage and deliver effective safeguarding policies:

  1. Understand the legal and regulatory framework: As you can see above, there are several laws and regulations that govern safeguarding in social care, including domiciliary care provision. It's essential to understand these requirements and ensure that your policies and procedures align with them.
  2. Involve stakeholders: Consult with service users, their families, staff members, and local authorities to understand their needs and concerns around what makes them feel like the care being provided is as safe as possible. Their feedback can help you develop policies and procedures that are more effective and responsive to their needs.
  3. Develop clear policies and procedures: Develop clear policies and procedures for safeguarding, including a comprehensive safeguarding policy that outlines the responsibilities of staff members, reporting procedures, and how to respond to allegations of abuse or neglect. If you’re stuck on where to begin with these, try looking up the policies of other Good or Outstanding domiciliary care providers in your area and seeing what policies they have on their site.
  4. Provide training: Provide regular training to staff members on safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure they understand their responsibilities and can identify signs of abuse or neglect. Skills for Care has a fantastic resource on the core and mandatory training for domiciliary care providers, which you can check out here!
  5. Review and update policies regularly: Regularly review and update your safeguarding policies and procedures to ensure they are up-to-date with changes in legislation or best practices.
  6. Create a culture of openness: Encourage a culture of openness where staff members feel comfortable reporting concerns or incidents without fear of retaliation. Ensure that you have clear whistleblowing policies and procedures in place.
  7. Monitor and evaluate: Regularly monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of your safeguarding policies and procedures. This includes monitoring incidents of abuse or neglect, reviewing feedback from stakeholders, and conducting audits to identify areas for improvement.

By following these steps, it’s easier to establish effective safeguarding policies that make sure vulnerable individuals in your care receive the excellent protection and care they need.

Training and Development in Social Care Safeguarding Skills

Providing high-quality training and development opportunities for your care team is essential to ensure that they have the knowledge and skills to provide safe and effective care to vulnerable individuals. 

Here are some of the ways you can support your care team in receiving high-quality training and development in social care safeguarding skills:

  1. Keep training regular: Provide regular training on social care safeguarding skills, including identifying signs of abuse or neglect, responding to allegations, and reporting incidents. This training should be mandatory and provided to all staff members, including new employees. To make it easier to keep on top of, include a mandatory training session in the whole company calendar at least once every two weeks.
  2. Offer specialised training: Consider offering specialised training to staff members who work with specific groups of service users, such as children or individuals with disabilities. This can help ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to meet the unique needs of these service users - and can also inspire the care professionals who work with you to take the next step in their career.
  3. Use a variety of training methods: Use a variety of training methods to cater to different learning styles and preferences. This can include classroom-based training, e-learning, on-the-job training, and role-playing exercises. What may work for one care professional may not resonate with another, so make sure to always ask for feedback on training programmes and provide alternatives accordingly.
  4. Provide ongoing support: Provide ongoing support to staff members, including regular supervision and feedback on areas they are less confident in. This can help ensure that they are applying their training effectively, and can identify areas where they may need additional support or training. It’s better to catch a lack of confidence earlier rather than later when it comes to safeguarding.
  5. Encourage continuous professional development: Encourage staff members to pursue continuous professional development opportunities, such as attending conferences or taking additional training courses. This can help them stay up-to-date with the latest developments in social care safeguarding skills and ensure that they are providing the highest quality of care. It will also help them stay motivated, and more likely to remain at your organisation and in the field of social care.
  6. Foster a culture of learning: Foster a culture of learning within your organisation by encouraging staff members to regularly share their knowledge and experience with each other. This can help create a supportive environment where staff members can learn from each other and build their skills and knowledge. A simple way to start this is with a whole company newsletter or a whole team call once a week where someone shares something of importance to them.

By supporting your care team in receiving high-quality training and development in social care safeguarding skills, you can ensure that they have the skills and knowledge to provide safe and effective care to vulnerable individuals.

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