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What is Safeguarding? Our guide to protecting vulnerable individuals

A Guide to Protecting Vulnerable Individuals

Safeguarding policies and procedures are essential to looking out for and protecting vulnerable adults and children. It is important that vulnerable people are able to live a life free from harm and are afforded the same opportunities as everyone else.

It is essential that employees who work within the Care or Education sector are suitably trained. Employers have a responsibility to provide training to all relevant employees. 

What is Safeguarding?

Safeguarding is the protection of the health, well-being, and rights of vulnerable individuals. It is primarily aimed at protecting people from harm. Harm can come from many different sources including other vulnerable people, carers, family members, or even the individuals themselves. Training is imperative for employees, it helps them understand what they need to do and what they need to look out for.

How to Safeguard a Vulnerable Adult

An adult is defined as someone who is aged 18 and over. Someone may be classed as a vulnerable adult if they:

  • are elderly and frail,
  • have a learning disability
  • have an alcohol or drug addiction
  • have a long-term illness
  • are a carer
  • have a physical disability
  • have mental health needs e.g. dementia, schizophrenia, or
  • don't have the capacity to make decisions by themselves

With regards to safeguarding vulnerable adults, it’s also crucial that you allow them as much control and autonomy over their own lives as possible. Under the Mental Capacity Act there is a process which needs to be followed to determine whether an adult is capable of making choices for themselves; only if this process has been followed and it has been decided that they are unfit to choose for themselves can any decisions about care be made without the individual’s consent.

Safeguarding a vulnerable adult means making sure their lives are free from neglect and abuse, encouraging or helping them make decisions about their own lives and care, and creating a risk-free environment.

How to Safeguard a Vulnerable Child

A child is classified as being under the age of 18. Safeguarding children is all about:

  • protecting them from abuse and exploitation
  • make sure they grow up with the right care
  • stop things from preventing their health and development, and
  • take action when you believe these things could be or are already happening.

Safeguarding children focuses on protecting children that are identified as suffering or likely to suffer harm. Children should not be allowed to experience harm in any form as part of this process.

Why is it Important to Protect Vulnerable People?

Everyone, regardless of age, gender, religion or ethnicity has the right to live their lives free of fear, abuse or neglect. When working in Care or Education, it is essential to protect these individual’s human rights and safety. If employees do not undertake the right training, they could expose vulnerable adults or children to neglect and abuse, warning signs can be missed and poor safeguarding could result in:

  • cases of abuse being missed
  • deprivation of liberty
  • abuse and neglect escalating to extreme outcomes, e.g. serious injury or death
  • children and adults not being treated fairly by those who care for them
  • loss of dignity, and
  • distress for those suffering and not knowing who to talk to - impacting behaviour

What can Safeguarding Training do for you?

It is key for anyone who works with children or vulnerable adults to undertake proper Safeguarding Training. Safeguarding training is vital because it:

  • Demonstrates what signs to look out for when someone is being abused, neglected or is subject to harm
  • Helps you understand exactly who is at risk of harm or is vulnerable
  • Allows employers to have trust that their employees know what they are doing and what to do in situations of harm or neglect
  • Teaches you how to communicate with vulnerable people, and
  • Shows the correct protocol for reporting problems and when to contact the authorities

Safeguarding Training provides you with knowledge on how to protect children or vulnerable adults from harm rather than unknowingly (or knowingly which is neglect in itself) ignoring the signs of harm or neglect.

Safeguarding Courses iHASCO