Vulnerable Adults Policy

Trans Pride Northern Ireland’s Vulnerable Adult Policy

1. Introduction

The aim of Trans Pride Northern Ireland’s Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy is to ensure that all our service users, who are vulnerable people, are protected from abuse and to ensure that those who have been abused receive support and protection from further abuse. The Policy sets out the steps to be taken by all Trans Pride Northern Ireland staff and volunteers when abuse is disclosed, identified, suspected or alleged.

The Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy is overseen by Trans Pride Northern Ireland’s Safeguarding Manager. The Safeguarding Manager is the person who is responsible for acting as a source of advice on vulnerable adult matters, for co-ordinating action and for ensuring that liaison takes place with Health & Social Care Trusts and other agencies in suspected and actual cases of vulnerable adult abuse.

The Safeguarding Manager for Trans Pride Northern Ireland is the Finance Director who can be contacted at 07577199752. In their absence, another Director will deputise in this role.

2. Policy Statement and Principles

Trans Pride Northern Ireland aims to ensure that all vulnerable people, are protected from abuse and to ensure that those who have been abused receive support and protection from further abuse. The principles of this Policy are to:

a. actively promote the empowerment and well-being of vulnerable adults through our services;

b. supporting the rights of the individual to lead an individual life based on self determination and personal choice;

c. recognise vulnerable adults who are unable to make their own decisions and/or to protect themselves, their assets and bodily integrity;

d. recognise that the right of self determination can involve risk and ensure that this risk is minimised whenever possible; and

e. ensure that when the right to an independent lifestyle and choice is at risk, that the service user concerned receives appropriate help, including advice, protection and support from relevant agencies.

3. Definitions

3.1 Vulnerable Adults

A vulnerable adult is any person aged 18 years or over who is unable to take care of him or herself or who is unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation. This may be because they have a mental health problem, a disability, a sensory impairment, are old and frail, or have some form of illness. Because of his or her vulnerability, the service user may be in receipt of a care service in his or her own home, in the community, or be resident in a residential care home, nursing home, or other institutional setting (DHSSPS 2009).

3.2 Abuse

Abuse is:

‘The physical, psychological, emotional, financial or sexual maltreatment, or neglect of a vulnerable adult by another person. The abuse may be a single act or repeated over a period of time. It may take one form or a multiple of forms. The lack of appropriate action can also be a form of abuse. Abuse can occur in a relationship where there is an expectation of trust and can be perpetrated by a person/persons, in breach of that trust, who have influence over the life of a dependant, whether they be formal or informal carers, staff or family members or others. It can also occur outside such a relationship’ (regional guidance issued by the Management Executive, Department of Health and Social Services, 1996).

Abuse can occur when a vulnerable adult:

a) Is in training or employment

b) Lives alone, with a relative or others

c) Attends nursing, residential or day care settings

d) Is in hospital or custodial situations

e) Is receiving support services

f) Is in public places

The following are the main different forms of abuse:

a) Physical Abuse – like hitting, slapping, rough handling, misuse of medication or misuse of restraint.

b) Sexual Abuse – including making someone carry out a sexual act they have not or cannot consent to.

c) Psychological Abuse – including use of threats, humiliation or name calling.

d) Financial or Material Abuse – including theft of money / possessions, misuse of someone’s benefits or denying someone access to their money.

e) Neglect and Acts of Omission – including not meeting a person’s basic care needs.

f) Discriminatory Abuse – including any form of abuse based on discrimination because of a person’s gender, age, disability, sexual orientation etc.

g) Institutional Abuse – including abuse or poor practice throughout an organisation.

4. Preventing Abuse Of Vulnerable Adults

There are a number of steps those working or volunteering in Trans Pride Northern Ireland can take to reduce the risk of abuse occurring. They should:

(i) know what abuse is;

(ii) understand how it can happen;

(iii) be alert to indicators of potential abuse situations;

(iv) know how to report concerns and poor practice;

(v) and provide appropriate support.

Likely situations for abuse can be reduced through the following:

a) Employing rigorous recruitment practices that include ACCESS (NI) checking for all service delivery staff.

b) Informing staff and volunteers of this policy.

c) Requiring all service delivery staff to undertake mandatory Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults training, which is updated as required.

d) Encouraging staff and volunteers to be vigilant and report all concerns.

e) Instructing service delivery staff / volunteers on how they can best design out sole access to vulnerable adults within their job or voluntary role.

f) Promoting a culture of openness and transparency.

Likely situations for abuse of vulnerable adults can be reduced and Trans Pride NI staff and volunteers protected from false accusations by making sure that everyone is aware that as a general rule they should not:

a) Spend excessive amounts of time with vulnerable adults away from others;

b) Transport vulnerable adults in their car on journeys, without the permission of a Director of Trans Pride Northern Ireland; and

c) Take vulnerable adults into their home.

Staff must also follow specific guidance on photographs and videos as follows:

a) Permission must be sought from the vulnerable adult or their Trust representative for the use of images.

b) Avoid using a vulnerable adult’s name and image together unless explicit permission has been sought from the individual or their representative and that information provided with the image does not compromise the safeguarding of the vulnerable adult.

c) Images of vulnerable adults in suitable dress should only be used to reduce risk of inappropriate use.

Trans Pride Northern Ireland makes it clear to staff and volunteers they should never:

a) Allow or engage in inappropriate touching of any form;

b) make sexually suggestive comments to vulnerable adults;

c) engage in sexually provocative activity;

d) let allegations a vulnerable adult makes go unchallenged or unrecorded; and

e) do things of a personal nature for vulnerable adults that they can do for themselves.

5. Respect for the Individual

When abuse has been disclosed, reported or observed, it is important that the alleged victim:

a) is treated with dignity;

b) is involved as an equal in investigation and kept fully informed on a regular basis;

c) has the right to be believed when they report abuse of themselves and others unless there is direct evidence to the contrary;

d) has the right to appropriate education/information in order to identify behaviour which constitutes abuse; and

e) is offered an appropriate means of victim support including agreements with other providers to offer alternative services or ensuring victims can access other support services such as counselling or legal advice.

6. Confidentiality

Normally, information is only passed on to others with the consent of the service user. However, where there is concern about abuse, the service user needs to be made aware that information has to be shared with statutory agencies in order to protect them and also to potentially protect others or investigate an alleged or suspected criminal offence.

7. Procedure for responding to reports and incidents of abuse or alleged abuse

The primary role of the person who first suspects abuse or is told of it is to report it to a Director. It is important that everyone in Trans Pride Northern Ireland is aware that the person who first encounters the case of alleged or suspected abuse is not responsible for deciding whether or not the abuse has occurred. That is the task for the professional agencies following a referral to them.

The process for dealing with an allegation of abuse or suspicion of abuse of a vulnerable adult goes through a number of distinct stages: alerting, referring, screening, planning the investigation, investigating, making decisions, monitoring and review.

Trans Pride Northern Ireland will be responsible for alerting and referring cases of abuse to statutory authorities. (Designated Officers for Vulnerable Adults have been appointed within Trusts). Further stages in the process will be undertaken by statutory authorities with Trans Pride Northern Ireland making input into the investigation process as appropriate.

Alerting

Everyone working with vulnerable adults has a duty to report suspected, alleged or confirmed incidences of abuse. If the allegation relates to an employee, a Director should be alerted.

Someone providing assistance to the vulnerable adult at this stage will need to obtain as much information as possible about the allegation or suspicion of abuse, particularly if a criminal offence has been committed. Only the basic facts of the suspected abuse or grounds for suspicion should be clarified at this stage. The person should not ask leading questions and should not discuss the allegation with the victim or the alleged perpetrator. Their role is primarily supportive rather than investigative.

On receiving an alert of an allegation or suspicion of abuse, a Director should check that the vulnerable adult’s immediate needs are being met, i.e. that they are in no more immediate danger and that medical assistance, if deemed necessary has been sought.

Referring

The Safeguarding Manager / nominated Director for Trans Pride Northern Ireland is responsible for ensuring that concerns are referred to the appropriate Vulnerable Adult Designated Officer within Trusts. In addition, the Safeguarding Manager / nominated Director will make a referral to NISCC where staff are subject to allegations of abuse. This contact should be made within the same working day by telephone in the first instance and should be confirmed in writing within 2 working days. The Safeguarding Manager / nominated Director will ensure that any appropriate means of victim support is put in place.

Practice Guidance for anyone suspecting abuse

Do

a) Remain Calm

b) Ensure no-one is in immediate danger

c) Call for emergency service if urgent medical/police help is needed

d) Report concerns to a Director

e) Record all the facts

Don’t

a) Promise to keep secrets

b) Be judgemental or overreact

c) Challenge the alleged abuser

d) Investigate yourself

e) Do anything that could disturb evidence

f) Discourage anyone from reporting concerns

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy Review:

Trans Pride Northern Ireland reviews all Adverse Incidents through a quarterly Review Process and any cases of abuse will be reviewed through this process and a change in policy or procedures will be undertaken if such action is required.

“Vulnerable adults Policy” partly modified, by Cedar Foundation.