Making sure that you, or the person that you care for, stays safe is vitally important. People need to feel and be safe to enable them to stay as independent as possible for as long as possible.
This doesn't mean that all risks are taken away, here at You're the Boss we're firm believers in positive risk taking - we think that often we get the most out of life by taking appropriate risks and just because you need some support does not mean that you should not be able to take these calculated risks.
There are lots of things to consider when thinking about staying safe, for example when it comes to recruiting someone to help you or the person you care for, you may want to think about how or whether you give out the home address or where to hold interviews, and this we cover on our recruitment page; or when you should carry out a criminal records check on potential staff; or what elements of risk should you cover when you make your plan. In this article we want to focus on keeping you, or the person you care for, safe from potential abuse.
Protection from Abuse
One key element of staying safe is knowing how to spot abuse. This is particularly important when a vulnerable adult or child is involved. There are the obvious types of abuse that everyone is aware of such as physical or sexual abuse, but there are many other ways in which someone could be being abused. In several instances the individual may not even think that what is happening is abuse, but ultimately abuse occurs when it results in someone being harmed. Sometimes the abuse is deliberate but sometimes it is unintentional - either way it is wrong
- Physical Abuse
- Sexual Abuse
- Psychological Abuse - including emotional abuse, blackmail, treats of harm, controlling, intimidation, verbal abuse, isolation, depriving them of normal activities or contact.
- Financial or Material Abuse - including theft, fraud, extortion, unlawfully gaining access to someone's funds or possessions.
- Neglect and Acts of Omission - including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or education services, the withholding of the necessities of life such as medication, adequate food and heating.
- Professional Abuse - including when a professional takes advantage of their client's trust; does not act in their best interests; does not keep professional boundaries; or exploits their vulnerability. This also includes the failure of professionals to act on suspected abuse/crimes or poor practice or neglect in services.
- Multiple or Institutional Abuse - Including the mistreatment of people brought about by poor or inadequate care or support, or systematic poor practice that affects the whole care setting.
- Discriminatory Abuse - including racism; sexism; discrimination based on a person's disability; or when someone is treated differently or picked on because something about them is different - for example their clothes, their religion or age.
How to Spot Abuse
You might be concerned about someone else, and not sure if they are being abused or not. There are lots of signs that someone could be being abused, and many of these signs differ depending on the type of abuse that may be occurring. For example someone may
- have injuries that are at different of stages of healing
- behave in a way that suggests they're afraid of the perpetrator
- have unexplained weight changes
- have a sexually transmitted disease or pregnancy
- have dirty clothing/bedding or inadequate or inappropriate clothing
- have insufficient food in the house
- have unpaid bills
- have a sudden loss of assets
- have increased levels of confusion
- lack of confidence and anxiety
- have a decreased ability to communicate
Individual signs alone may not be a sign of abuse, but combinations of these signs could indicate abuse. It is better to be safe than sorry so if you have suspicions that abuse may be occurring then report it as soon as possible.
What to do if you suspect abuse.
If you suspect abuse or neglect, report it, the worst thing you can do is nothing...
In an emergency, if you think the person being abused is at risk of harm and needs immediate police protection, call the police on 999. Try and remove the person from immediate danger if you can, but you should not put yourself in danger.
If the individual is not in immediate danger then please contact your local Adult Social Care Team. Professionals have a duty to act on any situations where the abuse of a vulnerable adult is suspected, so your concerns will be acted upon quickly. Many Local Councils have dedicated safeguarding teams to investigate abuse issues and you should be able to find their contact details from the Local Councils website, if you can't then call the Adult Social Care team and they will help you. To find and get the contact details for the relevant Local Council use our Postcode Checker.
Many people are worried that they have got it wrong, that there is no abuse, or the abuse is not serious enough to report - don't hesitate, do report it. Local teams are used to carrying out safeguarding investigations, and are trained to do it in a sensitive and supportive manner.