Adult Safeguarding

back arrow icon Back to Nursing Essentials Crib Cards

All health care professionals have a duty to safeguard their patients and those they work with. This includes the development of skills and knowledge to enable detection of those who may be at risk of experiencing abuse/harm. This could take the form of physical, psychological, sexual, social or economic abuse, as well as neglect, acts of omission and discrimination

Abuse comes in many guises and affects people of all ages. Some of the rising areas of concern include female genital mutilation, domestic servitude, forced labour, begging, benefit fraud, cuckooing, drug-related activity, radicalisation or human trafficking.

Signs that someone may be in need of safeguarding support? 

  • Unexplained injury, change in behaviour or health care need. 
  • Inconsistent story around the reason for seeking health care. 
  • Individual may be withdrawn and uncommunicative. If you suspect someone may be at risk, ask a simple question such as: “Do you feel safe (at home) (here) (with company)?”. It may help to start a conversation. If possible, discuss any concerns with the individual and obtain their agreement.

What to do if you recognise someone is at risk? 

  • Know the local policies and procedures with regard to safeguarding. 
  • Take time to find out if there is an issue. 
  • Create a safe opportunity for the individual to speak to you alone especially if they are accompanied by someone. 
  • When speaking, reassure them that it is safe to speak.
  • Only use non-judgemental relevant questions. 
  • Allow the person time to speak to you.
  • Do not promise that you can keep the information totally confidential, remember this may need the involvement of social services, police, etc.
  • Speak to your manager or safeguarding lead.

You need to be aware of the intercollegiate adult safeguarding competencies at: professional-development/publications/pub-007069