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1.2 Policy Aims

1. Principles

1.1 Principles of Safeguarding

The aims of safeguarding are to respect the autonomy and independence of individuals by applying the six key principles set out in Chapter 14, Care and Support Statutory Guidance (Department of Health) to all adult safeguarding work.

  • Empowerment: People being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and informed consent. “I am asked what I want as the outcomes from the safeguarding process and these directly inform what happens.”
  • Prevention: It is better to take action before harm occurs. “I receive clear and simple information about what abuse is, how to recognise the signs and what I can do to seek help.”
  • Proportionality: The least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented. “I am sure that the professionals will work in my interest, as I see them and they will only get involved as much as needed.”
  • Protection: Support and representation for those in greatest need. “I get help and support to report abuse and neglect. I get help so that I am able to take part in the safeguarding process to the extent to which I want.”
  • Partnership: Local solutions through services working with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse. “I know that staff treat any personal and sensitive information in confidence, only sharing what is helpful and necessary. I am confident that professionals will work together and with me to get the best result for me.”
  • Accountability: Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding. “I understand the role of everyone involved in my life and so do they.”

All service providers, including housing and housing support providers, should have clear operational policies and procedures that reflect the framework set by the SABs in consultation with them. This should include what circumstances would lead to the need to report outside their own chain of line management, including outside their organisation to the local authority.

1.2 Adults experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect

  • The services provided must be appropriate to the adult and not discriminate because of age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, race, religion or belief, sex and sexual orientation.
  • The primary focus / point of decision making must be as close as possible to the adult, and individuals must be supported to make their own choices. Adults must be offered support services as appropriate to their needs.
  • There is a presumption that adults have the mental capacity to make informed decisions about their lives. If someone has been assessed as not having mental capacity to make safeguarding decisions, those decisions will be made in their best interests as set out in the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and the Mental Capacity Act Code of Practice.
  • Adults should be given information, advice and support in a form that they can understand and have their views included in all forums that are making decisions about their lives.
  • All decisions taken by professionals about a person’s life should be timely, reasonable, justified, proportionate, ethical and fully recorded.

2. Adults and Adult Abuse

See also Abuse.

2.1 Definition

The safeguarding duties apply to an adult who:

  • has the needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs) and;
  • is experiencing, or at risk of, abuse or neglect; and
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

The adult experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect will hereafter be referred to as the adult throughout these procedures.

Where someone is 18 or over but is still receiving services from children’s social care and a safeguarding issue is raised, the matter should be dealt with through adult safeguarding arrangements.

Local authority statutory adult safeguarding duties apply equally to those adults with care and support needs regardless of whether those needs are being met, regardless of whether the adult lacks mental capacity or not, and regardless of setting other than prisons and approved premises where prison governors and National Offender Management Service respectively have responsibility. However senior representatives of those services may sit on the Safeguarding Adult Board.

Prevention of abuse and neglect is one of the key ways of securing someone’s well-being, and this should be considered as part of an assessment of someone’s care and support needs, even when this is not the presenting need.

It is important to remember that just because someone is old, frail or has a disability, this does not mean they are inevitably ‘at risk’. For example, a person with a disability who has mental capacity to make decisions about their own safety may be perfectly able to make informed choices and protect themselves from harm. In the context of safeguarding adults, the vulnerability of the adult is related to how able they are to make and exercise their own informed choices free from duress, pressure or undue influence of any sort, and the extent to which they can protect themselves from abuse, neglect and exploitation. It is equally important to note that people with capacity can also be vulnerable.

An adult’s vulnerability is determined by a range of interconnected factors including personal characteristics, factors associated with their situation or environment, and social factors (see Table 1 below).

Table 1: Factors determining vulnerability

Personal characteristics of the adult that increase vulnerability may include Personal characteristics of the adult that decrease vulnerability may include
Not having mental capacity to make decisions about their own safety including fluctuating mental capacity associated with mental illness and other conditions; Having mental capacity to make decisions about their own safety;
Communication difficulties; Having no communication difficulties or if so, having the right equipment / support;
Physical dependency – being dependent on others for personal care and activities of daily life; Good physical and mental health; no physical dependency or, if needing help, able to self-direct care;
Low self-esteem; experience of abuse;Childhood experience of abuse. Positive former life experiences; self-confidence and high self-esteem.
Social / situational factors that increase the risk of abuse may include Social / situational factors that decrease the risk of abuse may include
Being cared for in a care setting, that is more or less dependent on others; not receiving the right amount or the right kind of care; Remaining independent and active;
Isolation and social exclusion; Good family relationships; active social life and a circle of friends;Able to participate in the wider community;
Stigma and discrimination; being the focus of anti-social behaviour;
Lack of access to information and support Good knowledge and access to a range of community facilities; access to sources of relevant information.
Carers lack of awareness or acceptance of impact of care needs.

2.2 Consent

It is always essential in safeguarding to consider whether the adult is capable of giving informed consent in all aspects of their life. If they are able, their consent should be sought and where appropriate recorded. This may be in relation to whether they give consent to:

  • an activity that may be abusive – if consent to abuse or neglect was given under duress (for example as a result of exploitation, pressure, fear or intimidation), this apparent consent should be disregarded;
  • a safeguarding adults enquiry / assessment going ahead in response to a concern that has been raised. Where an adult with capacity has made a decision that they do not want action to be taken and there is no public interest or vital interest considerations, their wishes must be respected. The person must be given information and have the opportunity to consider all the risks and fully understand the likely consequences of that decision over the short and long term;
  • the recommendations of an individual protection plan being put in place;
  • a medical examination;
  • an interview.

If, after discussion with the adult who has mental capacity, they refuse any intervention, their wishes will be respected unless:

  • there is an aspect of public interest for example, not acting will put other adults or children at risk;
  • there is a duty of care on a particular agency to intervene for example, the police if a crime has been or may be committed).

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