What is safeguarding?
In recent years safeguarding has become a watchword within the healthcare sector. Patient care has to be a top priority in every area of the health industry and within the care, sector safeguarding has become of paramount importance.
A number of incidents within various areas of care and support lead to Safeguarding being legislated in the UK. After two girls were murdered by their caretaker the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Groups Act was passed in 2006 and shortly after the Independent Safeguarding Authority was established to ensure people had proper background checks before being employed to care for others.
But what is safeguarding?
Safeguarding is defined as the term used to ensure proper measures and put in place and established to protect the human rights, dignity, health and well-being of people, especially those who are considered vulnerable or at risk such as children, mentally and physically disabled or elderly. Safeguarding is the measures put in place to ensure people live or are cared for in an environment that is free from neglect, abuse or anything that could or could potentially cause harm.
In short, Safeguarding is about preventing something before remedial action is required after the event. Within the healthcare sector, a number of basic principles have been set out by the government that must be either implemented or considered at all times where caring for others, especially those considered vulnerable. The principles of safeguarding are, in many ways logical, and include
Empowering people – In safeguarding a person should be empowered, as far as possible, to help them make their own decisions based on having access to the best information. Empowerment has to be for both caregiver and the one being cared within the healthcare sector and is of vital importance.
Prevention – the adage “prevention is better than cure” rings true with safeguarding and having policies and procedures in place to prevent something from happening is a prerequisite in the healthcare industry.
Protect those at risk – it is well known that those at greatest risk need the most protection, however;
Proportionality – while protection is needed there such a thing as overprotection and this can be detrimental to the person or group of people that are being safeguarded. Applying the right amount of support and protection is important as too much care can be as harmful in terms of human rights as it is meant to keep a person free from harm.
Accountability – in all areas of safeguarding within healthcare each individual must be held accountable for their activities
Partnership – Safeguarding is about working together and communities, teams and groups working alongside other professionals not only in healthcare but often in other professions. Collaborating to ensure a safe and free care environment is essential, creating understanding and improving the well-being of all parties.
Everyone has a part in Safeguarding and safeguarding
It should not be seen as a hurdle rather a tool to use to deliver better healthcare on one side and create a better work environment for the caregiver on the other. Rules, procedures and policies are important and there are a number of acts that have been passed in various areas of care when safeguarding is considered a priority or where different concerns may have to be considered.
Good training in Safeguarding and keeping ones knowledge and understanding current cannot be underestimated.