Much of the caring and support role comes down to being an engaging communicator and understanding facilitator. As the people supporting individuals on a daily basis, we understand these people well, we know what their likes and dislikes are, what their motivators are, what they find challenging and daunting, how they are likely to best engage and what might make them shy away from the world. Safeguarding is a daunting subject from many people, even those that are seemingly the most confident to begin with may have second thoughts or a change of mind set when faced with the realities of a safeguarding investigation or meeting. Imagine how that can feel and the emotions that can transpire for an individual with a learning disability or with ASD. We already possess the tools required to make safeguarding inclusive, we just need to ensure that we apply them!
Along these principles, safeguarding should always follow these basic ideas:
- Be outcome focused based on what the individual wants and needs. Safeguarding should not be a ‘process’ that someone is part of or subject too.
- Safeguarding should be a journey that is led by the client towards a point where they feel their concerns have been realised and something has been done about them.
- The focus should always be on the individual- put them at the centre of everything.
- By an individual ‘leading the safeguarding’, this does not simply mean getting consent.
- Provide a platform where the individuals voice can be heard and wishes listened too. Think about the MCA 2005, where it talks about communicating with people in a way that they understand so that they have and can retain information pertinent to the decision- apply those principles here too.
What follows are the eight steps that Next Steps ensure to take when we approach any safeguarding incident or meeting:
- Ask the individual what their preferred method of communication is.; knowing how a person likes to communicate will make it easier for them to engage.
- Recognise how a person’s vulnerability may affect their ability to engage.
- Always use the Mental Capacity Act to empower people to make their own decisions.
- A person’s capacity to engage may have been affected by coercion or control.
- Always identify a lead professional and use safeguarding procedures to work together with other professionals. Through working in partnership, the management of risk remains a shared responsibility.
- Never assume that someone else is dealing with the problem- build up and maintain a good relationship with professionals from other agencies.
- Be careful what you record about a person’s engagement- Terms like “Difficult to engage with” place the emphasis solely on the individual and do not help to identify other reasons why the person may not be engaging.
- Remember that engagement may fluctuate; always remain tenacious and determined. Make sure the individual knows we are there to support them.