Policy on the Safeguarding of Vulnerable Adults

1.0 INTRODUCTION

 The Birmingham Buddhist Centre is seeking to put into practice the key Buddhist ethical principles of kindness, generosity, contentment, truthfulness and awareness.

This is in alignment with the Safeguarding Vision for Birmingham which is to:

Promote and protect individual human rights, independence and well-being and secure assurance that the person thought to be at risk stays safe, is effectively safeguarded against abuse, neglect, discrimination, embarrassment or poor treatment, and is treated with dignity and respect and enjoys a high quality of life.

We work within an inter-agency framework guided by the best practice and policy guidelines of the Birmingham Safeguarding Adults Board.

This policy applies to Order members, Mitras and Friends who may be employees of the Buddhist Centre, or teachers, or class leaders, or volunteers, or parents, as well as others renting space at the Buddhist Centre to run their own activities. It aims to protect both vulnerable adults and those working with them. Therefore it sets out practices and procedures which contribute which contribute to the prevention of abuse of vulnerable adults and a course of action to be followed if abuse is suspected.

2.0 DEFINITIONS

 A vulnerable adult is any person aged 18 or over who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age, or illness, and who is, or may be, unable to take care of him/herself, or unable to protect him/herself from significant harm or exploitation. It may be someone who is usually able to manage, but at some stage may not be able to do so because of an accident or illness.

For example, a vulnerable adult may be a person who has a physical or sensory disability, is physically frail or has a chronic illness, has a mental illness or dementia, has a learning disability, is old and frail, misuses drugs and/or alcohol, has social or emotional problems, or exhibits challenging behaviour. Whether or not a person is vulnerable in these cases will depend on the particular circumstances. Each situation must be judged individually.

Abuse is the harming of a person usually by someone in a position of power, trust, ot authority over that person, or who may be perceived by that person to be in a position of power, trust or authority. The harm may be physical, psychological, emotional or exploit the vulnerable adult in more subtle ways.

3.0 TYPES OF ABUSE

Physical abuse

  • Bodily assaults resulting in injuries g. hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking, misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate sanctions.
  • Bodily impairment e.g. malnutrition, dehydration, failure to thrive.
  • Medical/healthcare maltreatment.

Sexual abuse

  • Rape, incest, acts of indecency, sexual assault.
  • Sexual harassment or sexual acts to which the vulnerable adult has not consented, or could not consent or was pressured into consenting.
  • Sexual abuse might also include exposure to pornographic materials, being made to witness sexual acts – also sexual harassment with or without physical contact.

Psychological/emotional abuse includes

  • Threats of harm, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment, verbal abuse, enforced isolation or withdrawal from services or supportive networks.
  • Humiliation.
  • Bullying, shouting, or swearing.

Abuse through neglect

  • Including ignoring medical or physical care needs, failure to provide access to appropriate health, social care or educational services the withholding of the necessities of life, such as medication, adequate nutrition and and heating.

Financial or material

  • Theft, or fraud.
  • Exploitation, pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance or financial transactions, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.

Discriminatory

  • Language which is racist, sexist, or based on a person’s disability, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

4.0 SIGNS OF ABUSE

Physical abuse signs

Note: Ageing processes can cause changes which are hard to distinguish from some aspects of physical assault, e.g. skin bruising can occur owing to the fragility of blood vessels.

  • A history of unexplained falls or minor injuries.
  • Bruising in well-protected areas, or clustered from repeated striking.
  • Finger marks.
  • Burns of unusual location or type.
  • Injuries found at different states of healing.
  • Injury shape similar to an object.
  • Injuries to head/face/scalp.
  • History of moving from doctor to doctor, or between social care agencies, or reluctance to seek help.
  • Accounts which vary with time or are inconsistent with physical evidence.
  • Weight loss owing to malnutrition, or rapid weight gain.
  • Ulcers, bed sores and being left in wet clothing.
  • Drowsiness owing to too much medication, or lack of medication causing recurring crises/hospital admissions.

Sexual abuse signs

  • Disclosure or partial disclosure (use of phrases such as ‘It’s a secret’).
  • Medical problems, g. genital infections, pregnancy, difficulty walking or sitting.
  • Disturbed behaviour, e.g. depression, sudden withdrawal from activities, loss of previous skills, sleeplessness or nightmares, self-injury, showing fear or aggression to one particular person, inappropriately seductive behaviour, loss of appetite or difficulty in keeping food down.
  • Unusual circumstances, g. two service users found in a toilet/bathroom area, one of them distressed.

Psychological/emotional signs

  • Isolation.
  • Unkempt, unwashed, smell.
  • Over meticulousness.
  • Inappropriate dress.
  • Withdrawnness, agitation, anxiety, not wanting to be touched.
  • Change in appetite.
  • Insomnia, or need for excessive sleep.
  • Tearfulness.
  • Unexplained paranoia, or excessive fears.
  • Low self-esteem.
  • Confusion.

Signs of neglect

  • Poor physical condition.
  • Clothing in poor condition.
  • Inadequate diet.
  • Untreated injuries or medical problems.
  • Failure to be given prescribed medication.
  • Poor personal hygiene.

Signs of financial or material vulnerability

  • Unexplained or sudden inability to pay bills.
  • Unexplained or sudden withdrawal of money from accounts.
  • Disparity between assets and satisfactory living conditions.
  • Unusual level of interest by family members and other people in the vulnerable person’s assets.

Signs of discrimination

  • Lack of respect shown to an individual.
  • Signs of substandard service offered to an individual.
  • Exclusion from rights afforded to others, such as health, education, criminal justice.

Other signs of abuse

  • Inappropriate use of restraint.
  • Sensory deprivation g. spectacles or hearing aid.
  • Denial of visitors or phone calls.
  • Failure to ensure privacy or personal dignity.
  • Lack of personal clothing or possessions.
  • Controlling relationships.

5.0 PEOPLE WHO MIGHT ABUSE

Abuse may happen anywhere and may be carried out by anyone, for example:

  • Order members, Mitras and Friends, whether employed or volunteering.
  • Parents.
  • Informal carers, family, friends, neighbours.
  • Other users of the Buddhist Centre, or tenants.
  • Strangers, or visitors to the Buddhist Centre.

6.0 REPORTS OF ABUSE

All allegations or suspicions are to be treated seriously. No abuse is acceptable and some abuse is a criminal offence and must be reported to the police as soon as possible.

The employee or volunteer’s primary responsibility is to protect the vulnerable adult if he/she is at risk. Each employee or volunteer has a duty to take action.

What to do if a vulnerable adult reports abuse

Do

  • Remain calm.
  • Listen patiently and carefully to what you are being told.
  • Reassure the person that they are doing right thing by telling you.
  • Clarify issues of confidentiality early Explain that you will have to discuss the information with others.
  • Reassure the person that any further investigation will be conducted sensitively, and with his/her full involvement wherever possible.
  • Explain what you are going to do.
  • Immediately write a factual account of what you have seen and heard.

Do not

  • Appear shocked, horrified, disgusted or angry.
  • Press the individual for details.
  • Make comments or judgements other than to show concern.
  • Promise to keep secrets.
  • Confront the alleged abuser.
  • Risk contaminating the evidence.

Recording what you are told

  • Make an accurate written record of what the person has told Write exactly what happened, not your opinion.
  • Write down what was said, using the exact words and phrases spoken wherever possible or write down what you Include dates and times.
  • Describe the circumstances in which the disclosure was made or you saw concerning actions or behaviour.
  • Say where it happened and who else was there at the time.
  • Date and sign the report and print your name under your signature.

7.0 WHAT TO DO NEXT

When considering whether to refer the matter to others (e.g. the Chair of the Buddhist Centre and/or one of the Safeguarding Officers, or the police, or social services), the following should be taken into account:

  • The wishes of the vulnerable adult and his/her right to self-determination.
  • The mental capacity of the vulnerable adult.
  • Known indicators of abuse.
  • Definitions of abuse.
  • Level of risk to this individual.
  • The seriousness of the abuse.
  • The effect of the abuse on the individual.
  • The level of risk to others.
  • The effect of the abuse on others.
  • Whether a criminal offence may have been committed.
  • The need for others to know.
  • The ability of others (e.g. police, social services) to make a positive contribution to the situation.

Where a vulnerable adult expresses a wish for concerns not to be pursued, then this should be respected wherever possible. However, decisions about whether to respect the person’s wishes must have regard to the level of risk to the individual and others, and his/her capacity to understand the decision in question. In some circumstances the vulnerable adult’s wishes may be overridden in favour of considerations of safety.

The consent of the vulnerable adult must be obtained except where:

  • The vulnerable adult lacks the mental capacity to make a decision, and a risk assessment indicates that referral would be in his/her best interests.
  • Others may be at risk.
  • A crime may have been committed.

Action steps

First discuss with one of the Safeguarding Officers who will advise on the need to inform others.

A decision will be made about the next steps which might include one or more of the following:

  1. Collection of more information.
  1. Refer to police.

Examples of actions which may constitute criminal offences are assault, whether physical or psychological, sexual assault and rape, theft, fraud or other forms of financial exploitation, and certain forms of discrimination, whether on racial or gender grounds.

Alleged criminal offences differ from all other non-criminal forms of abuse in that the responsibility for initiating action invariably rests with the state in the form of the police and the Crown Prosecution Service (private prosecutions are theoretically possible but wholly exceptional in practice). Accordingly, when complaints about alleged abuse suggest that a criminal offence may have been committed it is imperative that reference should be made to the police as a matter of urgency. Criminal investigation by the police takes priority over all other lines of enquiry.

  1. Follow Birmingham Buddhist Centre disciplinary procedure.
  1. Submit safeguarding report.
  1. Seek advice from Adults and Communities social worker teams or relevant specialist organisations.

8.0 PUBLICATION OF THIS POLICY

This policy will be communicated to all employees, class leaders, event organisers and volunteer supporters and made available at the Buddhist Centre. Its existence and whereabouts will also be made known to those attending residential events organised by the Buddhist Centre elsewhere.

9.0 TRAINING FOR EMPLOYEES AND VOLUNTEERS

We will ensure that paid staff and volunteers are fully aware of the Buddhist Centre’s policy and procedures governing the safeguarding of vulnerable adults and what they should do and to whom they can refer if they have any concerns.

 

Last reviewed: March 2017