|policy on child protection and safeguarding vulnerable adults|
At hygeia, we are committed to safeguarding children and vulnerable adults and to protecting them from harm. Our dental team accepts and recognises our responsibilities to develop awareness of the issues which may cause harm to children and vulnerable adults.
The Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding Lead at our practice is Joanne Giddy. Her deputy is Neil Phillips. They are the relevant points of contact for raising concerns. They also have responsibility for ensuring that our policies and procedures for safeguarding children and vulnerable adults are kept up-to-date and operated correctly.
We will endeavour to safeguard children and vulnerable adults by:
This policy is underpinned by the following principles:
We will review this policy and guidance annually.
IF YOU ARE A PATIENT AND THINK YOU ARE BEING ABUSED, PLEASE SPEAK TO DR GIDDY OR ANY TEAM MEMBER ABOUT THIS. ANYTHING YOU TELL US WILL BE HELD IN STRICTEST CONFIDENCE AND WE WILL HELP YOU IN WHATEVER WAY WE CAN - INCLUDING GIVING YOU INFORMATION ABOUT AGENCIES AND ORGANISATIONS THAT CAN HELP.
YOU DON'T HAVE TO SPEAK TO US - BUT PLEASE SPEAK TO SOMEONE. OTHER ORGANISATIONS THAT CAN HELP ARE:
NSPCC Child Protection Helpline - 0808 800 5000 - http://www.nspcc.org.uk/
Childline - 0800 1111 - http://www.childline.org.uk/
The Samaritans - 08457 909090 - http://www.samaritans.org/
Devon Social Services Multi-Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH) - 0345 155 1071
Care Direct (for adults) - 0845 1551 007
Members of the dental team are in a position where they may observe the signs of abuse or neglect or hear something that causes them concern about a child or vulnerable adult. The dental team has an ethical responsibility to follow the procedures for safeguarding set out in this guidance wherever a child or vulnerable adult is or might be at risk of abuse or neglect: this includes a responsibility to ensure that children and vulnerable adults are not at risk from members of the profession itself.
If a team member becomes aware of anything that makes them suspect a child or vulnerable adult is being abused, they must immediately refer the matter to the Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding Lead, Joanne Giddy. If it is not possible to refer the matter to her, the team member must refer the matter to the Deputy Lead, Neil Phillips. They will decide the most appropriate manner in which to deal with the situation. If there is any doubt about how a matter should be handled, they can obtain additional information from the Child Protection and the Dental Team website or from local Social Services (0345 155 1071) or the Local Adult Safeguarding Board.
Any allegations made against or suspicions about a team member must be reported to the Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding Lead in the same way as if they had involved a child's parent, a vulnerable adult's carer or another person. If an allegation is made against or you have suspicions about the Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding Lead, this should be reported to her Deputy. If an allegation is made against or you have suspicions about the Deputy Lead, this should be reported to the Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding Lead in the usual way. Where allegations involve any team member, the Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding Lead or her Deputy (as appropriate) will make decisions about the need for referral in the same manner as in any other case but may also invoke disciplinary procedures.
If neither the Child Protection and Safeguarding Lead nor her Deputy are available to consult, you may have to make a referral yourself. Here are flowcharts to help you do this in relation to:
Signs of abuse
The dental team is not responsible for making a diagnosis of abuse or neglect, just for sharing concerns appropriately, but here are some examples of what might amount to abuse, so that you have some idea of what to look for:
Physical abuse may involve hitting, shaking, throwing, poisoning, burning or scalding, drowning, suffocating or otherwise causing physical harm. It may also be caused by a parent or carer fabricating the symptoms of, or deliberately causing, illness.
Emotional abuse is persistent emotional maltreatment causing severe and persistent adverse effects on emotional development. It may involve conveying to children or vulnerable adults that they are worthless or unloved, inadequate, or valued only insofar as they meet the needs of the other person. It may feature:
Sexual abuse involves forcing or enticing a child or vulnerable adult to take part in sexual activities, whether or not they are aware of what is happening. The activities may involve physical contact, including penetrative (for example rape, buggery) or non-penetrative acts. They may include non-contact activities, such as involving children or vulnerable adults in looking at, or in the production of, pornographic material or watching sexual activities, or encouraging them to behave in sexually inappropriate ways.
Neglect is the persistent failure to meet basic physical and/or psychological needs, likely to result in the serious impairment of health or development. It may occur in pregnancy as a result of maternal substance abuse. Neglect may also involve a parent or carer:
Financial abuse involves stealing from a vulnerable adult by, for example, a carer using benefit money to buy things for themselves.
You may become aware of potential abuse in a number of different ways:
If you are worried about a child or vulnerable adult – practical steps
It is uncommon for dentists to see patients with signs of abuse but where you have concerns about a patient who may have been abused and there is no satisfactory explanation, prompt action is important: immediately discuss your concerns with the Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding Lead, Joanne Giddy, or her Deputy, Neil Phillips. They will decide whether a formal referral is required.
Permission to refer:
The Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding Lead or her Deputy will consider whether to seek permission to refer. It is good practice to explain concerns to the child or vulnerable adult and their parents or carers, informing them of the intention to refer and seeking their consent – being open and honest from the start results in better outcomes. Wherever possible, patients should be separated from the alleged abuser before such conversations take place.
We will not, however, discuss concerns with the parents or carers where:
Where there is serious physical injury arising from suspected abuse:
Where less serious injury is recorded or there is concern for the physical or emotional well-being of the individual, the Child Protection and Adult Safeguarding Lead (or her Deputy) will discuss the appropriate reporting procedures and our concerns with local Social Services (contact details below).
Recording and reporting
We will not attempt to investigate any allegations or suspicions ourselves but will instead refer matters to the appropriate authorities. It is important NOT to ask a child or vulnerable adult leading questions but to simply record what they say and what has happened. Asking leading questions may jeopardise any future criminal proceedings arising out of the allegation of abuse.
Where an injury is involved, reports will be restricted to:
Attendance of the referring dentist may be required by the Social Services Department at a case conference or if there is a court hearing, so comprehensive written records of the injuries and its history (as reported) must be kept together with clinical photographs, where available.
Listening to children and vulnerable adults
We aim to create an environment in which children and vulnerable adults know their concerns will be listened to and taken seriously. We communicate this by:
Providing information to children and vulnerable adults
To support children, vulnerable adults, their families and carers, team members may consider offering information about:
Providing a safe and friendly environment for children and vulnerable adults
We will provide a safe and friendly environment by:
Other relevant policies and procedures
Clinical governance policies that we already have in place contribute to the practice being effective in safeguarding children and vulnerable adults. Relevant policies and procedures include:
Web version 5: 13.3.2013