Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults in Care Homes
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) defines safeguarding as the protection of people’s well-being, health and human rights, allowing them to live safely without neglect, harm or abuse.
To achieve this, organisations that interact with adults who might be at risk have to show that they have relevant policies and processes.
Residential care homes are very much involved in the safeguarding for their residents.
Why Do We Need Policies?
These policies aim to prevent adults who are resident in care homes from suffering abuse and neglect. However, this is quite a complex area because abuse can take many different forms.
We can say that it’s the misuse of power that one person has over another.
Physical abuse may seem straightforward, but this too may take many forms – for example, if a person is only allowed to carry out activities at certain times and is restrained at other times.
The abuse may not be physical. A homosexual resident may be discouraged from having their homosexual friends or partner visit them, or be subject to disparaging remarks.
When it comes down to it, as the best care homes recognise, the residents of the home have the same rights as the people outside it – and a strong policy protects those rights.
Adults Who Lack Capacity to Make Decisions
In some cases, the adult at risk could be persuaded to enter into financial commitments or transactions that are not in their best interests.
This brings up the whole question of mental capacity. There is a legal structure to protect people who aren’t able to make their own decisions.
This framework, part of the Mental Capacity Act, also says how decisions should be made on behalf of the person who lacks capacity.
Care home policies should set out the rights of the people in their care, the possible risks to them and the ways in which the care home ensures their safety and well-being.
These will include detailed assessments of residents, safeguarding carers being used, staff training, regular medication reviews, nutritional monitoring, safety checks and precautions, prompt treatment of medical problems and liaison with outside agencies and professionals – a substantial list of the ways in which the care home safeguards its residents.
When decisions about the care and welfare of a resident need to be made, they are guided by the policy.
It’s not an ad-hoc event that might differ the next time – the policy ensures consistency of care. Once the policy is in place, a good care home will also implement checks and monitoring to ensure that it is being followed.
Families and loved ones can help by being involved with the person in care, raising any problems immediately and noticing any changes in the resident’s behaviour, manner, appearance or physical well-being that seem untoward, and reporting them.
We all want care home residents to live happy lives, and these policies will help to ensure that outcome.