In 2018, there were 15,676 cases of cruelty to children and young people. A decade ago, in 2008, that figure was just 6,204. However, it’s not just young people at risk. According to the NHS, older people are much more likely to be the subject of a Section 42 safeguarding enquiry.
Offences to young and vulnerable children, and adults alike, are on a prominent rise in the UK, and we must do everything we can to ensure the safeguarding of these individuals.
For many businesses in the care sector the first step is to understand and update the safeguarding policies that are in place.
The importance of having a safeguarding policy
A safeguarding and child protection policy at your business is arguably the most important policy to get right first time round.
It’s the main document staff members will turn to if and when an incident occurs to vulnerable children and adults, and it’ll outline important areas, including:
- The business’s commitment to safeguarding.
- Any legislation on safeguarding.
- The signs and symptoms of things like child sexual abuse and exploitation.
- The staff member’s mandatory duty to report such concerns.
- The role and identity of the Designated Safeguarding Lead.
- What the next steps to take are.
Safeguarding concerns are often extremely nuanced, and without a safeguarding policy in place, care sector staff will struggle to find the relevant information they need to respond to an incident quickly, professionally and respectfully.
The importance of keeping a safeguarding policy up-to-date
Legislation changes all the time, staff members come and go, and when it comes to safeguarding, guidance and correct protocol is constantly updated.
Keeping a safeguarding policy up-to-date, then, is of critical importance. For example, the NHS might update the guidance on safeguarding adults, or the NSPCC might publish any new legislation on how to professionally handle a child sexual abuse case. Equally, the NHS might change whatever the change is, it must be swiftly reflected in your safeguarding policy, and staff members must be informed in due course.
Without this, you might find care home staff acting with their best interest in mind, but in an unprofessional and outdated manner, which could result in severe issues not only for staff, but for entire care homes.
How often should a safeguarding policy be updated?
Safeguarding in Schools recommend that a safeguarding policy should be updated annually, as a result of changes to guidance. A policy should be made publicly available on your website, too, so that staff and residents can access this information whenever they see fit.
In some instances, care homes are expected to use a policy produced by a local authority, but there should be room to produce an appendix relevant to the specific care home in question, and this information should be shared with all members of staff.
What’s the first step to updating a safeguarding policy?
The first step to updating a safeguarding policy is understanding what information you need to include, and how to go about writing a policy specific to your place of work.