Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy and Procedure

Policy Document 1.2    2015

Self Injury Self Help (SISH) is strongly committed to supporting all vulnerable people and believes the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults is an issue for everyone. We are committed to ensuring that vulnerable people who we are in contact with/use our services are not exploited or abused and that working practices minimise the risk of abuse.


1. Policy Statement

SELF INJURY SELF HELP is strongly committed to supporting all vulnerable people and believe the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults is an issue for everyone. We are committed to ensuring that vulnerable people who we are in contact with/use our services are not exploited or abused and that working practices minimise the risk of abuse. We are also committed to working in an empowering manner with any adults experiencing abuse. If abuse is reported to Self Injury Self Help or our staff or volunteers recognise abuse, this policy outlines what steps should be taken. This policy should be read in conjunction with our Critical Incidents Policy.

This policy seeks to ensure that Self injury Self Help undertakes its responsibilities with regard to the protection of vulnerable adults and will respond to concerns appropriately.  The policy establishes a framework to support paid and unpaid staff in their practices and clarifies the organisation’s expectations.

We acknowledge that we work within an area where people are at risk and this is something we take very seriously.  We consider very carefully where we ‘fit’ in terms of the support services available and what other organisations are out there carrying out similar support work alongside us.  We know that self-injury is linked to many situations where risk may be increased if support is not available or where action may be taken without appropriate forethought.

If we are uncertain about how to proceed or if we have internal disagreements on an issue we will seek advice from the City of Bristol Council LADO.

Self injury Self Help (SISH) makes a positive contribution to a strong and safe community and recognises the right of every individual to stay safe.

Self Injury Self Help comes into contact with vulnerable adults through the following activities:

·         Self Injury support groups

·         Wellbeing workshops

·         Making Changes courses

·         SISH / STITCH collaborations

·         Emails and phone calls to SISH

·         Involvement Group

·         Research and outreach work

·         As volunteers and / or paid members

2. Aims

• To protect vulnerable adults from being exploited/abused

• To respond sensitively and coherently to reported incidents of self neglect and abuse

• To respect the rights and wishes of the vulnerable person

• To work to the highest standards of good practice.

3. Values

The values that underpin these guidelines are that:

• All individuals will be treated with equal respect regardless of age, ethnicity, gender, religion, sexual identity or impairment

• All people, no matter where they live or what their circumstances, are entitled to a life free from exploitation and abuse.

• Adults are autonomous; they can make their own decisions. Some adults will be making decisions under duress and will need extra support. Others will lack the capacity to make decisions; they need to have as much choice as possible within the principle of duty of care.

• Adults are entitled to access criminal justice

• Adults need to know their rights and how to get help if they are being abused. The rights of all individuals will be upheld

• An adult disclosing abuse needs to be listened to, taken seriously and believed.

• A vulnerable adult and their protection needs to be at the centre of any investigation. Decisions will be taken in partnership with the vulnerable person wherever possible. Intervention will be no more than is necessary to protect the individual

• All staff and volunteers in all settings are responsible for reporting abuse and contributing to the protection of vulnerable adults. There will be no unnecessary delay in resolving matters

• Records must be clear, concise and factual.

• Personal information will be treated in the strictest confidence within the limits of the law, and following the Confidentiality Policy of Self Injury Self Help as applied in each of its services and activities.

4. Definitions

4.1 A Vulnerable Adultis a person aged 18 years or over who may be unable to take care of themselves or protect themselves from harm or from being exploited.

This may include a person who

•          Is elderly and frail

•          Has a mental illness including dementia

•          Has a physical or sensory disability

•          Has a learning disability

•          Has a severe physical illness

•          Is a substance misuser

•          Is homeless

4.2 Significant harmis defined as ‘ill treatment including sexual abuse and forms of ill treatment that are not physical; the impairment of or unavoidable deterioration in physical or mental health; and the impairment of physical, intellectual, emotional, social or behavioural development’. (Law Commission 1995)

4.3 RiskRefers to situations or behaviours, which present a real or potential threat of harm to a person’s health, development, safety or well-being. Vulnerable people can be at risk because of the actions or behaviour of others or they can be at risk because of self-neglect, their behaviour and lifestyle.

4.4 Abuseis a violation of an individual’s human and civil rights by any other person. Abuse may consist of single or repeated acts. It can be physical, psychological, financial, sexual, neglect, discriminatory or institutional abuse and can take place in any setting.

4.5 Neglectcan be deliberate or unintentional, amounting to abuse by a carer (formal or informal) or self neglect by the vulnerable person

Different types of abuse or neglect

Physical abuse

Examples include: Slapping, pushing, kicking, rough handling, twisting of limbs/ extremities, misuse of medication, or inappropriate sanctions or restraint.

Sexual abuse

Examples include: Rape and sexual assault or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not consented, could not consent or was pressured into consenting. Non-contact abuse such as voyeurism, involvement in pornography.

Psychological / Emotional abuse

Examples include: verbal assault or intimidation, emotional abuse, deprivation of contact, verbal abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, humiliation or blaming, overriding of consent, choices or wishes, feeling worthless, frightened or unloved.

NB: Psychological/emotional abuse will usually occur in conjunction with other forms of abuse.

Financial abuse

Examples include: theft, fraud, exploitation, and pressure in connections with wills, property, possessions or benefits.

Neglect and acts of omission

Examples include: ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services, the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and heating.

Discriminatory abuse

This abuse is usually motivated by discriminatory and oppressive attitudes towards race gender, culture background, religion physical and/ or sensory impairment, sexual orientation and age.

Institutional abuse, neglect and poor practice

This may take the form of isolated incidents of poor or unsatisfactory professional practice at one end of the spectrum, through to persuasive ill treatment or gross misconduct.

Self neglect

Has been recognised within the Care Act 2014 as part of the safeguarding framework. Self neglect includes an unwillingness or inability to care for oneself and/or one’s environment. It encompasses a wide range of behaviours, including hoarding, living in squalor, and neglecting self-care and hygiene.

5. Responsibilities

All staff (paid or unpaid) have responsibility to follow the guidance laid out in this policy and related policies, and to pass on any welfare concerns using the procedure laid out in this document.


6. What to do if abuse is reported or suspected

If you have general concerns about a vulnerable person because of signs and symptoms you have noticed, discuss these with your line manager. The facts should be thoroughly checked and the person who is the subject of the concerns should be made aware of the process.

If you feel the matter is urgent due to the severity of the symptoms, contact your line manager immediately and/or a medical practitioner and/or the police if a criminal act has been committed. Record all the information carefully. Use incident report forms or other appropriate administration procedures.

If there is a specific incident that leads you to suspect that a person has been or is being abused you must seek an urgent discussion with your line manager/supervisor.

The line manager, dependent on the information received, will contact the appropriate agency (i.e. City of Bristol Council LADO). If requested, complete the relevant Local Authority Safeguarding Vulnerable groups Incident Report Form and submit to the local authority. Ensure that feedback from the Local Authority is received and their response recorded in the safeguarding record sheet. If an individual is in need of immediate protective action, it may be necessary to contact the police.

All reports of suspected or alleged abuse must be recorded in detail, and filed in the incident folder.

7. Action to take when abuse is disclosed

• Listen carefully to what the person is saying.

• Give the person time to say what he or she wants to.

• Make initial enquiries and establish the situation as far as possible without starting an investigation.

• Sensitively ask open questions (not leading questions) to obtain key information:

What has happened

When did the activity take place

Where did it take place

Who is involved

• Discuss with the person what action he/she wishes you to take

• Ensure that the person knows how to contact the police to report the incident if he or she wishes to do so.

• Ensure the person knows where else they may get support and protection (see the Abuse fact sheet and/or signposting folder)

Action to be taken in the Support Groups, Wellbeing Groups, Making Changes Groups, Involvement Group

• Listen carefully to what the person says

• Allow the person to talk freely and analyse their situation

• Make initial enquiries and establish the situation as far as possible

• Others in the support group may also be concerned and provide the benefit of their advice

It may be appropriate at any point in the conversation to take the person aside (or at a convenient break in the group) to talk to the person alone, confidentially to establish the severity and full circumstances of the situation.

• Sensitively ask open questions (not leading questions) to attain key information What happened When did it happen Where did it take place Who is involved

• Discuss with the person what action they wish to take

• Does the person wish to take action?

• Do they know how to contact the relevant authorities or organisation that can help

• Ensure the person knows where else they may get support and protection

• Inform the line manager at the earliest opportunity

8. If the person asks you not to take any action

You must explain to the person that you must inform your line manager/supervisor. Tell the person you understand that he or she does not wish to take any action and you will inform the manager of this. Take the information to your line manager/supervisor.

If the abused person does not want the matter to go any further than his/her wishes should be respected unless the following circumstances apply:

• Where the alleged abuse has been perpetrated by a professional, a paid helper or volunteer of any organisation who may have access to other vulnerable people

• Where there is likelihood of a serious crime occurring (for example, Terrorism, human trafficking, risk of harm to a child)

• Where there is immediate risk to life or serious injury to themselves or others

• Where the person involved appears to lack the mental capacity to make an informed decision

9. If the person wishes action to be taken

You should inform them that the information will be taken to your line manager. You should record all the information that you have been told and what you have observed e.g. bruising. The wishes of the vulnerable person should be taken into account and their consent (if they are able to give it) should be obtained regarding further action and the sharing of information.

10. Support to Staff and Volunteers

It is recognised that dealing with allegations of abuse can be stressful. Self Injury Self Help will offer staff and volunteers as much support during the process as resources permit. Service users/members will be informed of the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy to provide clarity with regard to Self Injury Self Help’s obligations under the Policy.

11. Allegations Against Self Injury Self Help Staff and Volunteers

If allegations are made against a staff member or volunteer of Self Injury Self Help, Self Injury Self Help will refer to its Disciplinary Procedure as normal, taking the Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy into account. The rights of staff under Grievance and Disciplinary procedures and Volunteers policies of Support & Supervision and Complaints will still apply.

The Trustees will decide whether the staff member or volunteer is to be suspended pending investigation.

12. Confidentiality

• Though Self Injury Self Help policies contain confidentiality clauses, it must be stressed that where abuse to a service user/member is alleged, suspected, reported or concerns are raised, management must be notified.

• The service user/member should be made aware that staff cannot ignore issues around abuse and that steps will be taken to deal with them in as sensitive a manner as possible.

• The confidentiality of the vulnerable adult should be respected wherever possible and their consent obtained to share information.

13. Staff Training

• Self Injury Self Help will ensure that all of its staff and volunteers who have direct contact with vulnerable adults have relevant training in the recognition of abuse and understand how to use the procedures to support the vulnerable adults and alert other appropriate staff.

• Self Injury Self Help will ensure that staff or trustees who are likely to receive concerns about abuse of a vulnerable adult will also have relevant training for them to fulfil this role.

• Self Injury Self Help will ensure staff and volunteers are aware of the legal protection afforded by the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1988 (protection from unfair dismissal or victimisation for whistle blowing on poor or abusive practice by colleagues).

Self Injury Self Help will make users of our services clients aware of the Safeguarding Policy by displaying the information on our website and providing copies of the policy on request.

The Trustee Safeguarding lead is Lisa Foote.

This policy will be reviewed by the Trustees annually and when there are changes in legislation.

Last reviewed by SISH Trustees November 2015