Recognising signs of abuse
Various types of abuse are physical, sexual, emotional/psychological, financial, institutional, self neglect and neglect by others.
They can be defined as follows:
Physical: The physical ill treatment of a person which may or may not cause physical injury. Physical abuse can also occur when people are not provided with adequate care and support, causing them unjustifiable physical discomfort.
Sexual: Sexual abuse includes acts which involve physical contact or non-physical contact. Contact abuse can include rape, sexual assault,and touching in a sexual way. Non-contact abuse can include people being forced to be photographed naked or made to let other people look at their body.
Psychological: There is usually a psychological element to all forms of abuse. It may involve; The abuser acting in a calm but destructive manner, humiliating a person, treating a person as a child, and, indifference to the needs of a person.
Financial: This involves a persons funds or possessions being taken or used inappropriately by a third party.
Institutional: This can involve practices of abuse in an institutionalised environment, for example, where the rights of the person using the service are denied. This can involve, amongst other things, ignoring other forms of abuse, abuse by one or more staff member or staff misusing any power they may have over the people using their services.
Neglect: This is the deliberate withholding of, or intentional failure to provide a necessary level of care and support for an adult to meet his or her needs. This can include self-neglect which may include purposely not eating, or neglect by others, which may include not providing adequate food.
Some signs that can be associated with various types of abuse may include:
Psychological: Low self-esteem, depression, lack of confidence, agitation and increased levels of confusion.
Physical: Injuries in unusual places, injuries in the shape of objects, skin infections and sleep deprivation.
Sexual: STD's, pain and itching, torn or bloodstained underwear, withdrawal symptoms and evidence of soreness when the person concerned is sitting or walking.
Financial: Unexplained withdrawals from a persons account, unusual financial transactions, a persons inability to explain what has happened to their finances, and, disparity between a persons assests and living conditions.
Neglect: Malnutrition, unexplained weight gain or loss and evidence of untreated medical conditions.
Some general signs of abuse may include repeated visits to GP or A&E for no obvious reasons, isolation of an adult and refusal of the adult to accept support from a previously trusted person.
An individual (person using service) may be more vulnerable to abuse depending on the setting and situation that a person is in and the actual disability/non-disability of an individual.
How to respond to suspected or alleged abuse
If there are suspicions that an individual is being abused, or if an individual alleges that they have been abused then I would report this to my immediate line manager and use the whistle blowing technique if appropriate.
Some ways to ensure that evidence is preserved can include using plastic bags to hold evidence if there is a likelihood that it may be contaminated, not entering the zone where the crime/abuse has taken place, advising the service user not to wash, gaining original copies of any CCTV tapes that may be available, as well as numerous other activities that can be carried out.
Understanding the local and national context of safeguarding and protection from abuse
Some local systems that relate to safeguarding and protection from abuse include employer/organisational policies and multi-agency adult protection arrangements for a locality. Some national policies include, for employees in the adult health and wellbeing sector, reporting incident to line manager who will then assess situation and where appropriate refer to Social Care Direct, the allegation will then be recorded on SSID by SCD with the referral type of Safeguarding Adults and the line manager will then ensure that the referral is logged by SCD.
Sources of information with regards to my own role in safeguerding adults would be organisational policies, my line manager and various Acts of Parliament.
Reports into serious failures in protecting adults from abuse will include amogst others, a safeguerding referral tool and 'No Secrets' document.
The roles for protecting individuals from abuse include the original organisation reporting the incident to social services who will then consider the seriousness and if neccessary, reporting it to police who will then take any criminal action that needs to be taken, unless an individual is at immediate risk then the person who suspects this reports it immediately to the police.
Understand the ways to reduce the likelihood of abuse
By working with person centred values (Individuality, Privacy, Choice, Independence, etc) we can reduce the likelihood of abuse as the individual is encouraged to live as independently as possible and is classed as an active partner in their own care or support as opposed to a passive recipient. If you are promoting choice and rights of an individual then that person is making their own choices as opposed to having choices made for them so they are more independent.
If an accessible complaints procedure is in place then people are less confused as to what needs to be carried out in order to report abuse and therefore feel more confident in reporting this.
Recognising and reporting unsafe practices
Some unsafe practices that may involve the well-being of an individual may include poor working practices, resource difficulties and operational difficulties. If unsafe practices have been identified then I would report this to my immediate line manager. If unsafe practices or abuse have been reported but nothing has been done then I would report this to my line manager and then their line manager and if the organisation had not done anything about this then I would report it to Social Care Direct.