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4 ways we can create a safer culture

1. Put people we support at the heart of safeguarding

It's a good thing to see complaints from people we support. This gives us evidence that the voice of the person supported is being heard, they are empowered to say how they feel and practice is changing as a result. Sometimes, these complaints may turn into a safeguarding issue. When a safeguarding is raised, it's really important to ensure the person we support is at the centre of all decisions. Sometimes, the process may take longer if we are truly involving a person supported – they might need a bit more time to process the information or think about what they want to say.

My top tips for putting people we support at the heart of safeguarding are:

  • Keep the person supported at the forefront of the conversation at all times. Although there are a lot of processes to follow, it's so important not to forget there is a person at the centre of the safeguarding who might be feeling scared, upset or anxious. 
  • Give people as much time as possible to understand the process. This may mean that interviews need to take place at different times of the day or not as quickly as usual.
  • Keep the person informed. Sometimes we can try to protect someone too much and it's really important that if they would like to be kept up to date, we ensure this happens at all stages.
  • Give the person information in a way they understand and make sure they have enough time to process it. Again, this may hold the process up a little, but Principle 1 in the Care Act 2014 is empowerment, as is the first principle of safeguarding.

Rachel Roberts, Quality Coordinator 

2. Bring people together to share challenges and best practice

We've started holding monthly leadership meetings that include the whole leadership team within the area, such as locality managers and team leaders. We also invite guest attendees from across the organisation, including heads of department.

These meetings are an opportunity to share best practice and lessons learnt, and discuss safeguarding and the challenges that we all face. We look at any themes occurring across the whole area, which helps us to identify what we need to focus on for the month ahead. In the new year we'll be inviting support workers to join the meetings to ensure good practice is being shared among all staff.

Damian Stephens, Area Manager 

3. Learn from specialist training

Safeguarding is not always enough when someone is at risk or is already a victim of a hate crime. An aspect of disability hate crime is ‘mate crime’, where a person is befriended in order to be exploited. People with a learning disability can be particularly prone to this. The victim themselves will rarely report this, which is why in my role I present training on how to spot the signs and the actions that can be taken.

Safeguarding alone might not be sufficient, as the incident needs to be logged as a hate crime and specialist input may be required. Additional training can be beneficial for staff and people at risk of hate crime. You should also find out if there’s a hate crime reporting centre in your area and keep a robust log of incidents.

Sarah Howard, Project Leader 

4. Create safe spaces for people to raise issues and concerns 

If I have a concern or complaint, I don’t always feel safe to tell a bank or agency worker. I would feel much better telling someone in management, as sometimes support workers don’t always know how to respond to my complaints. I think a really good idea would be for the locality manager or team leader to check in with the people supported in their locality once a month, and ask how the last few weeks have been for them and if they have any issues or concerns.

It would be great if a locality manager could set this up so they would be able to deal with the issue there and then. I also think it would be useful for staff to talk openly about safeguardings and complaints, and how they can be a positive thing, so people supported don’t feel bad for raising them.

Tom Kane, member of the Safeguarding Panel, also supported by Brandon 

For more resources and information about Safeguarding Adults Week, visit the Ann Craft Trust website.