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Safeguarding in Action

Yesterday I attended a Safeguarding meeting to support a family who had raised concerns about a care home. I am well aware that safeguarding fails to keep people safe. This morning I was interviewed on BBC Radio Kent on the issue of increased safeguarding referrals and what this increase means. 

Some people presume that increased reporting means that it is easier to report, that is not what our evidence shows. We have been monitoring safeguarding referrals over a number of years via Freedom of Information Requests, the substantial evidence we have gathered is best demonstrated by the following case study which is typical,

Home A

2012 to 2013 The following Safeguarding issues are reported.

6 issues reported by the care home, all considered minor and not meeting the criteria for a safeguarding investigation.

3 reports from families that people are not given food and drink. Safeguarding investigate each and judge each unsubstantiated. each case is judged separately and not considered a pattern. The evidence relied on in each investigation? The fluid and food charts produced by the home which are accepted without question.

2 staff  separately report concerns that staffing numbers are not sufficient to meet residents needs. both staff wish to remain anonymous as they fear retribution. Both these investigations judge the concerns unsubstantiated as the home produce staff rotas they say are based on residents needs and theses are accepted at face value.

2013 to 2014

5 Safeguarding alerts from the care home, all were issues that fell below the investigation threshold.

5 Reports from families that staff numbers are too low and that people are subsequently not receiving basic care. 1 case is upheld as the local hospital confirmed that this person had been admitted with dehydration.  The safeguarding investigation recommend staff are given further training hydration and nutrition. The other four cases are judged unsubstantiated as the home produces fluid and nutrition charts and staff rotas as evidence which is again accepted at face value.

3 staff separately raise concerns about staffing levels all are judged unsubstantiated.

Shortly after this a large number of staff leave, some were forced out after being identified by their employer as the whistle-blowers as they had tried to raise their concerns with their employer first and when they took identical concerns to Safeguarding it revealed them to be the whistle-blowers. The remaining good staff leave when they witness what happens to those staff who dare raise concerns.

The following year there are 53 safeguarding referrals, 6 from the home and the remaining 47 from relatives, hospitals and other sources.

The figures are released as a whole and everyone concludes its easier to raise concerns and whistle-blow.

The above case is typical. Safeguarding is a closed and secretive process where the care home involved is often allowed to investigate themselves and its no surprise they find themselves not guilty. Those making decisions about whether to uphold a case or not have no idea of the cost in suffering to the vulnerable and their families, they have no idea what happens to whistle-blowers and fail completely to see the whole picture. We need Ednas Law, not safeguarding, the real issue here is not the reporting of abuse, its what action is taken when it is reported.

Eileen Chubb

Copyright 2015