1. KNOW HOW TO RECOGNISE SIGNS OF ABUSE
1.1 DEFINE THE FOLLOWING TYPES OF ABUSE:
– PHYSICAL ABUSE is deliberately causing harm or injury such as broken bone, cuts, burns or bruises which is not accidental.
– SEXUAL ABUSE is forcing or persuading a person to take part in sexual activities, which does not always involve physical contact and can occur online. Victims of sexual abuse in some instances do not understand what is happening or that what is taking place is wrong and the victim is afraid to speak out.
– EMOTIONAL/ PSYCHOLOGICAL ABUSE involves deliberately scaring, humiliating or isolating and or ignoring by means of ongoing emotional mistreatment.
– FINANCIAL ABUSE is depriving an individual of money or other resources to live independently, forcing the individual to depend on the perpetrator financially.
– INSTITUTIONAL ABUSE occurs in care settings whereby vulnerable persons usually live, such as retirement care homes or foster homes and is the mistreatment, abuse or neglect of vulnerable persons within the care setting or service.
– SELF-NEGLECT is when an adult fails to take care of themselves which causes serious physical, mental and emotional harm as well as damage or loss of assets.
– NEGLECT BY OTHERS is when a person or persons have a legal or social responsibility to an individual and actively withhold necessities of life, including care or passively neglecting a person by not providing necessities of life due to lack of information, experience or ability.
1.2 IDENTIFY THE SIGNS AND OR SYMPTOMS ASSOCIATED WITH EACH TYPE OF ABUSE
Individuals who present with unusual behaviours such as suddenly behaving differently are anxious, withdrawn, depressed, aggressive, have difficulty sleeping or changes in eating habits and or unexplained weight loss, bed sores, bedwetting and or soils clothes which is associated with non-accidental injuries, such as multiple bruising, fractures and burns could be signs of physical abuse. As well as physical signs, individuals may experience change in their emotional state, such as thoughts about suicide, self-harm, obsessive behaviour, taking risks as well as using illicit drugs and or alcohol.
Signs and or symptoms of sexual abuse in young or vulnerable persons may be that they avoid socialising or being alone with certain people and appear afraid of them. In young or vulnerable persons, a sign of sexual abuse is inappropriate sexual behaviour or language in relation to their age. Physical symptoms of sexual abuse could be genitalia soreness, an unusual discharge, having a sexually transmitted infection or pregnancy. Other indicators such as unexpected or unexplained change in behaviour, a preoccupation with sexual content, bruising, torn, stained or bloody underwear are associated with sexual abuse
Like physical abuse, the signs of emotional/psychological abuse are similar without obvious physical symptoms. Indicators could be unexpected or unexplained change in behaviour, confusion, fear, depression and a loss of sleep.
Signs and or symptoms of financial abuse could be unexplained withdrawal from the bank or unusual banking activity, unpaid bills or unexplained shortage of money and the reluctance of the person with responsibility of finances to provide basic life necessities.
Institutional abuse can be indicated by means of non-negotiable systems or routine, displaying a lack of meeting dietary requirements, inappropriate ways of addressing persons or name calling as well as displaying a lack of appropriate physical care.
Self-neglect can be identified by persons suffering with a disease, injury or illness which is untreated. A person living in unsanitary conditions, creating a hazardous situation which is likely to cause physical harm as well as damage or loss of assets could be a sign of self-neglect. As well as a person’s physical or mental health being severely impaired due to extensive malnutrition can be a sign or symptom of self-neglect.
Signs of neglect by others could be untreated medical problems, malnutrition, confusion, over-sedation and bed sores. Depriving an individual of meals could be considered as “wilful neglect”.
1.3 DESCRIBE FACTORS THAT MAY CONTRIBUTE TO AN INDIVIDUAL BEING MORE VULNERABLE TO ABUSE
Factors which may contribute to an individual being more vulnerable to abuse may be that, the individual is less aware of their rights and may be socially isolated or require help with personal care and daily living. The individual may not be able to express themselves clearly and may have limited sex education. Vulnerable persons may have to share a home with people they have not chosen to be with or live in poor housing. Factors such as requiring more care than their carer can give or having difficulty understanding requests or actions and or may not know how to complain. Individuals who may receive support from several different carers may be more vulnerable to abuse and or may be in a relationship of unequal power or have a history of substance misuse. Living in an environment which is unsuitable, having no aids or adaptations could be a factor that may contribute to an individual being more vulnerable to abuse, as well as having had limited life experiences and is not able to recognise risky situations.
2. KNOW HOW TO RESPOND TO SUSPECTED OR ALLEGED ABUSE
2.1 EXPLAIN THE ACTIONS TO TAKE IF THERE ARE SUSPICIONS THAT AN INDIVIDUAL IS BEING ABUSED
Responding appropriately to suspicions that an individual is being abused consists of four key steps, which may not necessarily be sequential. That is, I need to be alert of signs of abuse and have a good understanding of safeguarding policies and procedures, ensuring I have the knowledge of available resources and support within the workplace regarding safeguarding arrangements. I need to be alert to what is abuse and what is acceptable or normal behaviour.
I also need to be confident and assertive in questioning behaviours if I suspect abuse. In suspected abuse, it is not always obvious and the individual may be reluctant to discuss what is happening to them, so it is important to question their behaviour on their own if their behaviour does not seem usual, and seek further information if appropriate.
It is important that I seek guidance and ask for help from the surgery’s named safeguarding lead, Dr Georgina Rubery and discuss my concerns regarding safeguarding.
A factual record of my concerns must be recorded, dated and signed. If I am concerned that my report is not being acted on promptly or concerns about the safety or welfare of the individual it is my responsibility to act and call 999 or refer to appropriate local authority.
2.2 EXPLAIN THE ACTIONS TO TAKE IN AN INDIVIDUAL ALLEGES THAT THEY ARE BEING ABUSED
As a HCSW, it is my responsibility and duty to promote the welfare of individuals and protect them from harm. Should an individual tell me that they have been abused or are being abused, it is important that I listen carefully to what they are telling me and do not judgements or assumptions whilst reassuring the individual that I will take what they are reporting seriously. I must be able to support the individual to communicate in a way that is appropriate for them so they can tell me the facts in a way that is be for them. It is important that I assure the individual that I have a duty to protect them from harm which will include talking to a colleague at the same time reassuring the individual that they will be involved in decisions about what will happen thereafter.
I must record what the individual has told me, using their own words, where possible. I must keep to the facts and ensure that the details are non-biased and do not contain my own personal views. I must date and sign the report and make sure that I report the allegation to the surgery’s safeguarding lead, Dr Georgina Rubery.