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First ever inter-professional guidance on adult safeguarding


The UK’s first guidance has been launched on safeguarding to help nurses and other healthcare staff more effectively protect vulnerable adults.

The document, published today by a range of royal colleges and other professional organisations, sets out core competencies, skills and training that staff should have.

“Healthcare staff now have a set of competencies they need to meet to help them safeguard people from harm”

Dawne Garrett

It is designed to stamp out all types of abuse and counter both emerging and common examples, such as “cuckooing” where people move in and take over another’s home, possessions and finances.

Other forms of abuse it aims to counter are people trafficking and modern slavery, domestic abuse, and internet abuse, such as being as being the subject of non-consensual online pornography.

The development of the document – titled Adult Safeguarding: Roles and Competencies for Health Care Staff – was lead by the Royal College of Nursing at the request of NHS England.

Since January, the RCN has worked on the guidance with over 30 other colleges, including the Institute of Health Visiting and the Royal College of Midwives.

It covers anyone over the age of 18 who is deemed at risk of abuse, harm or neglect because of their need for care and/or support, and who are unable to safeguard themselves.

“This is an ambitious document that will help keep safe many adults with differing types of care needs”

Dawne Garrett

Healthcare staff who are involved in adult safeguarding will have three years to meet the new standards, covering settings from hospitals to care homes and home care.

The new roles and competencies set out in the guidance cover everyone from receptionists and porters, to consultants and board members, noted the RCN.

There will be five levels, depending on the nature of the person’s role, and a mandatory training session is recommended to begin within the first six weeks of staff starting a new role within a healthcare organisation.

Staff will be required to refresh their skills within every three-year period, depending on the level of competency required.

Dawne Garrett, professional lead for older people and dementia at the RCN, is the lead author of the new guidance.

She said: “Following a plethora of abuse scandals involving adults at risk, healthcare staff now have a set of competencies they need to meet to help them safeguard people from harm.

“Until now, there hasn’t been an equivalent,” she said. “This is an ambitious document that will help keep safe many adults with differing types of care needs across the UK.”

“Health and care professionals must be given the resources to deliver it in practice”

Sally Copley

Sally Copley, director of policy and campaigns at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “The new guidance is great in theory, but health and care professionals must be given the resources to deliver it in practice.

“Currently there is simply not enough money in the system to provide even basic care for people with dementia, let alone the specialist training and support needed to work with people often unable to make their needs known,” she said.

“This can lead to unintentional but still unacceptable abuse, such as people with dementia receiving inappropriate treatments like physical restraint or anti-psychotic drugs,” she noted.

She added: “A million people in the UK will be living with dementia by 2021, all needing and deserving high quality care, and health and care professionals must be properly trained and supported to provide that.”

Other organisations involved in drawing up the guidance included the British Association of Social Workers, British Dental Association, British Geriatrics Society, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, College of Paramedics, the College of Podiatry, Royal College of GPs, Royal College of Occupational Therapists, Royal College of Ophthalmologists, Royal College of Physicians, Royal College of Psychiatrists, Royal College of Radiologists, Royal Pharmaceutical Society, and the Society and College of Radiographers.


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