What is a safeguarding lead for adults?

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It is good practice for workplaces to have a designated safeguarding lead, and in health and social care this is often the manager.

If working in the NHS, there must be a named doctor and nurse for safeguarding.

The term ‘safeguarding’ is most commonly used with regards to children and young people under the age of 18, but it also applies to vulnerable adults.

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
  • Require a carer
  • Have a physical disability
  • Have mental health needs e.g. dementia, schizophrenia
  • Don’t have the capacity to make decisions by themselves

Safeguarding adults is focused upon the safety and wellbeing of those being cared for, and provides additional measures for people who are least able to protect themselves from harm or abuse.

A vulnerable adult is someone aged 18 or over who depends on others for assistance to carry out basic functions, or who has a severe impairment to communicate, and therefore a reduced ability to protect themselves from assault, abuse, or neglect.

The definition of an adult at risk is ‘someone aged 18-years-old and over who may be in need of community care service by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation.

What is safeguarding?

Safeguarding involves proactively seeking to engage a whole community in keeping an individual safe from harm and promoting their welfare.

Professionals in the care sector put that person at the centre of all activities when they work together in an integrated way, with the aim of improving life outcomes.

It is important to see safeguarding as part of a continuum, where prevention and early intervention can help vulnerable adults and families either get back on track or avoid problems evolving to crisis point.

Protection is a central part of safeguarding and promoting welfare.

It is the process of shielding an individual identified as either suffering, or at risk of suffering significant harm, because of abuse or neglect.

In which areas of work might you need a designated safeguarding lead?

  • Care homes
  • Schools and other educational settings
  • Healthcare settings (such as GP surgeries and hospitals)
  • Social care settings (such as a women’s refuge where children may be present)

An ideal candidate for the role will need to be:

  • A person who is in authority, possibly a manager or someone similar
  • Someone who is also a member of the staff rather than a freelancer, if possible
  • Possess a Disclosure and Barring Service check (the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) carries out enhanced checks with barred lists on anyone working with vulnerable adults to make sure they are safe)
  • Have at least two references who have been contacted
  • They should be contactable all the time, even out of hours (organisations might also consider having a deputy too)

Duties of a designated safeguarding lead:

  • The safeguarding lead should be qualified. In fact, they’ll have a high level of safeguarding knowledge and should have completed essential training.
  • The safeguarding lead will be involved in safe recruitment procedures for new staff members as well as their induction.
  • They support staff.
  • They will make formal referrals to the Duty and Advice Team.
  • They will ensure that concerns are logged and stored securely away.
  • The safeguarding lead will have joint responsibility, together with the management committee or Board of Trustees, to ensure that an organisation’s safeguarding policy and related policies and procedures are followed and regularly updated.
  • They are the person to go to for the contact details of relevant statutory agencies, such as the Police or Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) for allegations against staff.
  • They must refresh their training in line with any necessary updates.

What training do I need to become a designated safeguarding lead?

The designated safeguarding lead in an organisation will be someone equipped with the knowledge, experience, and training to fulfil their role.

This means having prior experience with safeguarding to enable advancement to a DSL level.

Each organisation will probably have its own guidance for staff about the amount of training that a person will must do, and this has to be established before the DSL embarks on a course.

However, as a general rule, if you are planning to become the safeguarding lead for your organisation, then you are required to complete a Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Level 3 Designated Safeguarding Officer (DSL) course, which is aimed at anyone who is responsible for safeguarding adults within their establishment such as head teachers, governors, safeguarding officers, adult care home managers, doctors, nurses, dentists, care assistants/teachers and those with adult pastoral care responsibilities.

Other settings may have particular training requirements before you take on the DSL role, details of this will be available within your own organisation.

Training must regularly be refreshed in line with any updates or changes to guidance.

DSLs are generally recommended to receive accredited, enhanced training each year as required to keep their knowledge relevant and up to date.

Why is safeguarding training crucial?

It is key for anyone who works with vulnerable adults to undertake proper safeguarding training.

Safeguarding training is vital because it:

  • Flags up the signs to look out for when someone is being abused, neglected or is subject to harm.
  • Helps you to understand exactly who is at risk of harm or is vulnerable.
  • Equips employees with skills so that employers can trust them to understand what they are doing and what they can to do when situations of harm or neglect arise.
  • Teaches how to communicate with vulnerable people.
  • Shows the correct protocol for reporting problems and when to contact the authorities.

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

How long does a safeguarding certificate last?

The Designated Safeguarding Lead, and any deputies, should undertake training which is refreshed every two years as well as update their skills and knowledge at regular intervals in between, but at least annually, to keep up with any developments relevant to their role.

At all times, it is important to have regular meetings about safeguarding within the workplace that include the appropriate members of staff.

If you wish to know more about being a designated safeguarding lead, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us at CBAT.