What do I do if I suspect abuse has taken place?
If you feel you have identified some or more of the signs and symptoms of abuse listed above and you feel there is a chance abuse has taken place then it is important you handle the situation carefully and correctly. Every situation will be different, and may involve dealing with some unpleasant issues and strong emotions, but there are a few “Do’s” and “Don’ts” that, if followed, should enable you to handle most situations appropriately.
DO NOT leave reporting suspected abuse until the “next time you see” the manger, because nobody’s memory is perfect and it could easily slip your mind, as well as critical evidence getting lost or destroyed during the delay.
DO NOT attempt to investigate the incident yourself or contact the alleged abuser, this will only complicate the official investigation should one take place and may result in the abuser “covering their tracks” before it can start.
DO record all your observations in as much detail as possible as soon as you can, including dates, times and people involved.
DO report all suspected abuse to the manger AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, either in person if they are on shift or by phone, mobile numbers can be found in the office.
DO contact the emergency services if the victim is in need of medical attention or if you suspect a serious crime has been committed.
Disclosure of Abuse
One of the most challenging parts of safeguarding is responding to person reporting abuse to you for the first time. This can be an extremely difficult and potentially traumatic situation for all involved but it is essential that our service users feel they can report abuse to the staff here at 18 Hope Street House so it is a situation you may well find yourself in. Here is some guidance on how to deal with such a situation.
DO take all allegations seriously.
DO remain calm and try not to show shock or anger.
DO NOT show shock or disgust or make judgmental comments about what you are being told.
DO be sympathetic and reassure the person their complaint will be dealt with seriously and in confidence (see below for more on “Confidentiality”).
DO NOT make promises you cannot keep such as “this will never happen again”, it may not be within your control.
DO NOT promise not to tell anybody (see below for more on “Confidentiality”).
DO listen carefully, try to avoid asking leading questions, give the person time to explain and describe events in their own words.
DO NOT try to interview the victim or start the investigation yourself.
DO ensure the person is safe and is not in immediate danger.
DO make a note of any cuts, bruising or other injuries as these may fade over time.
DO record all observations in as much detail as possible and report it to the manger as soon as possible.
In some of the more extreme cases of abuse, there may be physical evidence at the scene that will need to be preserved until the police arrive. It is not always easy to prove abuse has taken place after the fact and physical evidence, especially DNA evidence, can be essential for establishing the facts and bringing the perpetrator to justice. This can be difficult as your first priority will be service user’s welfare and the situation may be quite traumatic, but here are a few pieces of advice to help ensure vital evidence is not destroyed.
- Where possible leave things as they are, do not attempt to tidy up or clean the area.
- Do not wash blood off clothes or other areas as this may provide DNA evidence for the police.
- Preserve the victims (or alleged perpetrator’s) clothes and footwear but try to handle them as little as possible.
- Be aware that coming into contact with the victim and/or their belongings can result in cross-contamination of evidence.
- Secure the area so that others do not enter and contaminate any evidence present.
- Try to preserve any items thought to have been used by the alleged perpetrators, especially do not touch any “weapons” that have been used.
- Only handle items to make them safe.
- For most items, brown paper bags or a clean envelope are ideal (DO NOT lick the seal on envelope as this may contaminate the evidence), for liquids use clean glass wear.
In cases of sexual abuse the need to preserve physical evidence is paramount and extra precautions must be taken.
- Ensure no-one makes physical contact with the victim and (if possible) the perpetrator. If you are comforting the victim, keep this in mind.
- Preserve any clothing, bedding, bloodied items, used condoms etc anything that may have bodily fluids from either the victim or perpetrator.
- Discourage the victim (and alleged perpetrator if possible) from showering, washing, changing their clothes or even brushing their hair as these could all destroy physical evidence.
- Discourage them drinking or eating as this can, again, destroy DNA or other physical evidence.
You may have noticed a contradiction above when looking at the “DO’s” and “DO NOTs” when dealing with the disclosure of abuse, in that you must keep the disclosure in confidence BUT must not promise to keep it secret, what does this mean?
When dealing with cases of abuse and suspected abuse, you will no doubt be talking about some very sensitive issues that the services user will not want repeated to everybody. You may well find being asked to keep things “secret” by the service user and it would seem to be in their best interests to do so (to preserve their dignity, to avoid further persecution from their abuser etc). However, it is important to remember that you will NOT be keeping it a secret; you do in fact have a duty to tell your manager at the very least and therefore must make sure the service user understands this before they make the disclosure.
As soon as is appropriate to do so in the conversation, or if the service users asks you directly, you must state that you have a duty to inform the manager and anyone else who might need to know (social worker, police etc) but apart from that anything they say will be held in confidence.
Recording Allegations and Incidents of Abuse
As mentioned before, any incidents, allegations, suspicions or disclosures must be made to the manager either in person or by phone as soon as reasonably possible. However, it is also important that it be recorded in as much detail as possible, as well as all the other reasons already discussed, it covers YOUR back as it shows that you acted correctly and took the allegation/disclosure seriously. The first point to record any information is the Daily Observation books, record as much detail as possible, including times, dates, people involved (remember to refer to other services users by their initials), mood and behaviour before and after the incident, and any other details that are relevant. If the event is serious, with the help of the manager, the residents Care Plan and Risk Assessment should be up-dated to reflect the outcome of the incident. It may also be the case that the managers feel a separate incident form is required to make all staff aware of what has happened/what has been said. You will be made aware of any new incident forms when you come on shift, after which they will be transferred to the service user’s file, however it is good practice to inquire about any incidents during the hand over at the start of your shift.
Once you have reported the incident(s) to the manager, they will decide whether it needs escalating further and who needs to be informed. If they feel the incident needs investigating further, they will most likely complete an SG1 form and submit it to Salford councils safeguarding team. They will then arrange any follow up meetings, investigations or interviews. You may be asked to complete a written statement, take part in a meeting or an interview, but it is also likely that your official involvement in the matter is over and, due to confidentiality; you may not be informed on exactly how the matter is proceeding. Whatever happens, the manager will make sure they let you know as much as they can and support you with any further involvement you may have in the matter. It is likely that the matter will be brought up in handovers at the very least and any new procedures brought in as a result will be discussed with the staff team as a whole and updated in the resident s care plan. As always, you are free to ask the managers about any concerns you have at any stage of the process.
As much as we would like it to be otherwise, there may be times when you are not fully satisfied with the response you get from the managers when you report suspected abuse. Alternatively you may feel that the managers are themselves the abusers and reporting it to them would do more harm than good. In these circumstances it would be appropriate to follow what is known as the “Whistle-Blowing Policy”. The official name for whistle blowing is ‘making a disclosure in the public interest’; however it is much more commonly called ‘blowing the whistle’ or ‘whistle blowing’. It means that if you believe there is wrongdoing in your workplace (e.g. your employer is committing a criminal offence) you can report this by following the correct processes, and your employment rights are protected.
If you decide to blow the whistle on an organisation you are protected and your employer cannot victimise you (eg by not offering you a promotion or other opportunities your employer would have otherwise offered).
Whistleblowers are protected for public interest, to encourage people to speak out if they find malpractice in an organisation or workplace.
Malpractice could be improper, illegal or negligent behaviour by anyone in the workplace.” This definition is from the Government’s web page www.directgov.uk .
Whistleblowers are strongly advised to make their disclosure to their employer. At 18 Hope Street House we encourage staff to report issues that concern them, and these reports can be made in confidence. In the first instance concerns should be raised with the Manager or Registered Owner, either James or Linda Priest. These will be taken seriously and investigated fully, and as a result dealt with quickly. As stated in the government’s definition, employees making whistle blowing allegations are protected.
Alternatively, you can contact the Chair of Juniper Manton Limited
Bernard Priest on 0161 740 8407.
If you have followed the whistle blowing procedure and do not think the issue has been addressed properly you can contact the Care Quality Commission at:
Newcastle upon Tyne
Safeguarding Children at 18 Hope Street
There are no children resident at 18 Hope Street nor do we have any regular visits from children at present. We do have infrequent visits from children, and our residents, on the whole, are pleased to meet with young people. One resident has occasional visits from her teenage grandson, and staff will sometimes bring their children or grandchildren to social events e.g. Christmas party. We have a duty to safeguard children and to assess any risks visiting children might encounter. This assessment of risk will be kept under review particularly if new arrangements are made for children to visit 18 Hope Street e.g. any new resident might have children in their family or social circle, children may visit as part of a volunteer or entertainment programme etc.
In addition to any individual risk assessments, the following policy applies to any children visiting 18 Hope Street
- Any visit from a child must be agreed with the operational manager.
- No unaccompanied children will be allowed to visit 18 Hope Street
- Children are not permitted in the residents’ bedrooms, and will not be alone with any residents.
- Anyone observing any behaviour which presents a concern about the safeguarding of children at 18 Hope Street will report this to the operational manager or registered manager who will take any necessary steps outlined in Salford’s Safeguarding Children procedures.
For more information on Safeguarding Children, please refer to the “Child Protection” policy which can be found in the staff office.