Do you find safeguarding procedures intimidating? Perhaps you’re uncertain of the full scale of safeguarding legislation?
Safeguarding issues can certainly be complex, and newcomers to HR management are often intimidated by the need to satisfy both company policy and the requirements of the law.
Thankfully, there are surprisingly few legal provisions that you need to be acquainted with. Each industry has a slightly different focus: health and social care, for example, may employ different procedures than institutions where adults work with children – but the legal requirements are the same.
And are relatively straight-forward.
What is safeguarding?
Safeguarding adults in a professional environment means:
- Protecting each person’s freedom to live in safety: free from neglect and abuse;
- Ensuring that each person’s well-being is promoted; taking their beliefs, wishes, views, and feelings into account; and
- Working with applicable partners: Care Quality Commission (CQC); local health agencies, councils, and police; other government departments and regulators, such as the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS).
The main regulation reinforcing these objectives is the Health and Social Care Act 2008, and this is what drives the common safeguarding procedures for human resource management.
These are some of the safer employment procedures you should be aware of:
1. DBS checks
The DBS check is one of the most critical elements of the modern recruitment process, ensuring that any individual considered for employment is safe to work in a specific environment.
The DBS check reveals details of any spent or unspent criminal convictions. A DBS check can be completed only with permission granted by the person being reviewed.
The type of industry within which you operate in dictates the level of DBS check you can to apply for.
If your organisation performs a healthcare function, or the person you’re considering employing will be working directly with children or vulnerable adults, an enhanced check is required. Standard and Basic checks are available for other industries, such as financial institutions; if in doubt, check here.
You can apply directly through the government’s DBS portal, or use a Responsible Organisation who will carry out the check on your behalf.
While the DBS check is the background investigation into an individual’s suitability for your organisational environment, there are a number of other procedures to consider for existing colleagues, clients, and customers.
Empowerment is an essential principle in safeguarding the people of your organisation, and there should be procedures in place to ensure that each individual is given control over their environment.
Empowerment in a safer employment environment means that people are supported and encouraged to make their own decisions.
Empowerment can be instigated into your organisation by:
- Ensuring that internal services are universal and personal
- Providing choice and control over decisions that affect individuals
- Asking people what they want an outcome to be
By placing the individual at the heart of decisions made about them, you empower them to feel more in control of their employment and safeguard their right to be in control.
Safeguarding is as much a preventative measure as a construct to deal with problems if they happen. Prevention is about awareness and the empowerment of everyone to be responsible for each other.
Organisations, therefore, can aim to prevent abuse before it happens by:
- Raising awareness: make it clear to all what is considered to be abuse or neglect
- Staff training: ensuring that information is available for all to refer to so that everyone is aware of what constitutes neglect and abuse
- Clarifying the path for an individual to follow when making a disclosure
By sharing an understanding of what constitutes neglect or abuse at a Human Resources level, you can help everyone understand what behaviour is expected in a safer employment environment. Additionally, you can reassure everyone that there are clear procedures to follow if they need to ask for help.
The principle of proportionality suggests finding a balance in the risk to an individual reporting a safeguarding issue, with the potential outcome.
All responses to a safeguarding disclosure should be appropriate to the risk presented in speaking up.
Each case, therefore, should be taken entirely on its own merit – safeguarding issues aren’t necessarily a one-size-fits-all situation.
This is where the real challenge for human resources management procedural protocol lies. Consider what is best for the person. Get involved to the degree required, ensuring that you don’t make a problem worse.
Where safeguarding issues have been disclosed, it’s important that human resource management has a valid means to deal with them.
HR departments should:
- Know what to do whenever concerns are raised;
- Understand how to stop abuse; and
- Understand how to provide support and help for anyone at risk.
Working with partners is a meaningful way to reinforce the safeguarding of everyone in your organisation. This is about empowering the local community to play a part in preventing, detecting and reporting abuse.
By encouraging partnerships with outside organisations such as local councils and health agencies, you can send a clear message that your organisation is dedicated to making the safer employment environment for everyone.
Outside agencies also include DBS checks, working with the CQC, and getting the law involved wherever the risk is proportional and appropriate to the individual.
The protection of personal information is an important element of partnership. Having clear policies of data protection help employees, clients, and customers feel safe.
Safeguarding isn’t just a list of procedures that Human Resources are responsible for upholding – it’s everyone’s business.
It’s essential that, through training and documented policy, that everyone in the organisation recognises the part they play in safeguarding themselves and each other.
By clarifying everyone’s roles and responsibilities, everyone can make sure that the workplace is a safe environment for all.
How to recognise signs or indicators or abuse or neglect
There’s no exhaustive list, but some of the indicators that help identify safeguarding issues could be:
- Bruises or injuries, or a lack of medical attention wherever injury has occurred
- Personal belongings or money going missing
- Weight gain or loss, or an untidy appearance
- A distinct change in behaviour or confidence
- Signs of self-harm
- Somebody may make a disclosure
Of course, somebody may make an indirect disclosure, and it could be down to you to recognise that someone needs help.
Remember, your response should be reasonable, measured, and reassuring.