Safeguarding adults with dementia is an important part of everyday work for providers of adult social care. This quick guide aims to support care providers and staff to safeguard people with dementia during the pandemic.
COVID-19 will continue to be part of our lives for the foreseeable future and as infection rates remain high, disruptions to services and support will still occur and people may still be more vulnerable to abuse or neglect. This may be a result of:
- increased social isolation
- stress on carers and caring relationships
- overstretched and stressed care staff
- an increase in criminal behaviour (scams etc)
- an increase in domestic abuse
- a range of new contacts (volunteers, those delivering food and medicines).
Care providers and staff are still under extra pressure as you cover for others who are sick or self-isolating, and you may be worried about your own health and that of your families.
Make sure you are alert to the signs of abuse
People with dementia, staff, carers and family may not report abuse for a number of reasons:
- fear of repercussions
- not realising that what is happening is abusive
- fear of being seen as a troublemaker
Here are some useful do’s and don’ts:
- Act on any concerns, suspicions or doubts.
- In an emergency, if there is actual or immediate risk of abuse, call 999.
- Try to ensure the immediate safety of those concerned – but not at the risk of your own safety.
- Provide first aid if necessary and someone is available with appropriate skills.
- Listen and clarify what the concern is / what has happened.
- Provide reassurance and comfort; offer a cup of tea.
- Assure the person that the matter will be taken seriously.
- Ask the person what they want done.
- Explain what you will need to do and who you may need to inform
- Try to gain consent to share information as necessary.
- Consider the person’s mental capacity to consent and seek assistance if you are uncertain.
- Actively preserve any evidence.
- Respect privacy as far as possible.
- Arrange support for the alleged victim.
- Contact the local authority children’s services if a child is, or may also be, at risk.
- Promise confidentiality – explain how and why the information might need to be shared.
- Rush the person.
- Probe or question – just record the facts and seek clarification where necessary.
- Contaminate or disturb any evidence.
- Interview witnesses – but do record any information volunteered by them.
- Panic or show shock /disbelief.
- Be judgemental.
- Jump to conclusions.
- Approach the alleged abuser (unless they also have care and support needs and are in your care or they are a member of your staff).
- Gossip, only inform others on a need to know basis.
Quality care and practice is always a good baseline on which to ensure people are safe, their wellbeing is promoted and their human rights protected. The crisis meant that there were some easements to the Care Act 2014 and the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Act 2014. These changes temporarily amended some of the duties and powers that local authorities have in relation to providing care. Since the inclusion of these Care Act easement powers, only eight local authorities have had need to use them and not since 29 June 2020. At the one-year review of the legislation, these easements were expired and will no longer be available through the act.