Safeguarding – how to keep out of the spotlight

Failures of safeguarding are usually in the spotlight when serious problems come to the attention of the public. One of the most common challenges is poor record keeping which is essentially poor communication. For example, serious case reviews often highlight the use of euphemistic or misleading language in written records hindering communication and leading to high risk and poor decision making. Good record-keeping is essential to enable timely and informed action, decisions and supervision.

Our OnRecord app is ideally suited to support the hugely important task of recording keeping. A worker with the mobile app can make an immediate records of events, sorted according to agreed ‘threads’ (i.e. labels of the issues to be recorded), using a standardised format supported with prompts. It’s a totally flexible system where users can upload supporting evidence linked to a specific record and each completed record is stored securely on our server. Each worker can keep their own separate records on a case matter or groups of workers can share their records in one single record.  Management and senior staff can access all the accounts in real time, keeping up to date with cases where risks are high and urgent action may need to be taken. Chronologies which accumulate over time can be searched, filtered, exported and downloaded into reports whenever required.

Advice or a record of a decision to share information can be recorded as its own thread within the chronology, together with the reasons for it, a record of what is shared, with whom and for what purpose

More about safeguarding

Safeguarding means protecting people’s health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.

Safeguarding of children is the action that is taken to promote the welfare of children and protect them from harm. Safeguarding means: protecting children from abuse and maltreatment, preventing harm to children’s health or development and ensuring children grow up with the provision of safe and effective care.

It’s important to remain focused on outcomes rather than just the process of safeguarding. The outcomes should be to:

  • To promote well-being and prevent abuse and neglect from happening in the first place;
  • Ensure the safety and wellbeing of anyone who has been subject to abuse or neglect;
  • Take action against those responsible for abuse or neglect taking place;
  • Learn lessons and make changes that could prevent similar abuse or neglect happening to other people (e.g. through learning and development programmes for staff).

Principles of safeguarding:

  • Empowerment – people being supported and encouraged to make their own decisions and informed consent.
  • Prevention – it is better to take action before harm occurs.
  • Proportionality – the least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
  • Protection
  • Partnership
  • Accountability

Safeguarding may be needed for those with physical or learning difficulties, people with mental health needs, young adults and immigrant workers. The person who is responsible for the abuse is often well known to the person abused e.g. a paid carer or volunteer, a health worker, social care or other worker.

Sharing information

Adults have a general right to independence, choice and self determination including control over information about themselves. In the context of adult safeguarding these rights can be overridden in some special circumstances such as:

  • Emergency or life-threatening situations which may warrant the sharing of relevant information with the relevant emergency services without consent.
  • The sharing of sensitive, personal information within organisations can be allowed even if the information is confidential. If there is a safeguarding concern, sharing it may be justified.
  • The law allows the sharing of sensitive, personal information between organisations where the public interest served outweighs the public interest served by protecting confidentiality eg where a serious crime may be prevented.
  • The Data Protection Act enables the lawful sharing of information.
  • There should be a local agreement or protocol in place setting out the processes and principles for sharing information between organisations.
  • An individual employee cannot give a personal assurance of confidentiality.
  • Frontline staff and volunteers should always report safeguarding concerns in accordance with their organisation’s policy – this is usually to their line manager in the first instance except in emergency situations.
  • It is good practice to try to gain the person’s consent to share information.
  • As long as it does not increase risk, practitioners should inform the person if they need to share their information without consent.
  • Organisational policies should have clear routes for escalation where a member of staff feels a manager has not responded appropriately to a safeguarding concern.
  • All organisations must have a whistleblowing policy.
  • The management interests of an organisation should not override the need to share information to safeguard adults at risk of abuse.
  • All staff, in all partner agencies, should understand the importance of sharing safeguarding information and the potential risks of not sharing it.
  • All staff should understand when to raise a concern with the local authority adult social services.
  • The six safeguarding principles referred to above should underpin all safeguarding practice, including information-sharing.