Acting on concerns
If you have any concerns about someone’s behaviour towards a vulnerable adult, where this person is not an employee or volunteer working on our behalf, you should:
- not ignore it – we will take any concerns very seriously
- discuss your concerns with one of the staff in the Drop-in
- under no circumstances confront this person or try to investigate the matter on your own
If you have any concerns about someone’s behaviour towards a vulnerable adult, where this person is an employee or volunteer working on our behalf, you should:
- report your concerns to one of the staff of the Drop-in, or if that is not appropriate, to one of the Trustees of FiA.
- not confront this person until advice has been sought.
We will endeavour to ensure that the member of staff or volunteer is treated fairly and honestly, helped to understand the concerns expressed, the process being followed and any outcomes of the process. However, consideration will be given to the graveness of the allegation before informing the person concerned. In the event of serious allegations, the police will be involved.
In all circumstances, we will act quickly and effectively if an allegation is made, or if there is suspicion or concern about a professional or volunteer’s relationship with a vulnerable adult, or group thereof, particularly if they have:
- behaved in a way that has harmed, or may have harmed, an individual
- possibly committed a criminal offence
- behaved in a way that indicates she/he is unsuitable to work with vulnerable adults.
Organisations have a legal requirement to report individuals to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) if they are dismissed or removed from regulated activity (or would have been had they not already left) because they harmed or posed a risk to a child or vulnerable adult. This duty to refer overrides any obligation to withhold information on the grounds of confidentiality.
Responding to a disclosure
If someone tells you that he or she, or someone they know, is being abused:
- take what is being said seriously
- reassure them that they have done the right thing
- give them time to talk but do not probe or ask leading questions; investigation is not your responsibility
- do not promise to keep secrets; all allegations of harm or potential harm must be acted upon
- explain that you will share this information with the Manager of the Drop-in who will ensure the appropriate procedures will be followed
- record what you have been told straight away while it is fresh in your mind, using the actual words spoken as much as possible.
- ensure that the disclosure is reported to one of the staff team. If you feel the individual is in immediate danger, take them straight to that staff member.
The staff member will be responsible for recording essential information about each case and for collecting reports and notes as appropriate. Any detailed information about a case will be confined to the Manager and the Chair of the Management Board, but where a referral to Merton’s Safeguarding Adults Team is to be made, the Manager will advise the Chair of the Management Committee.
The staff/volunteer reporting the allegations will be kept informed of the progress of the case on a ‘need to know’ basis.
What happens next
Considering all the information available, the Manager and Chair of the Management Committee will decide on further action. This may include taking no further action. Where it is decided that further action is necessary, this may be to:
- Seek further advice from Merton Safeguarding Adults Team.
- Make a referral to Merton Safeguarding Adults Team,
- Report the incident to a designated Social Worker
- Report the matter to the police if a crime is suspected.
If a referral is made, this must be confirmed in writing to the appropriate agency within 24 hours. If a member of staff/volunteer does not agree with the decision of the Manager and Chair of the Management Committee that no further action is necessary, the member of staff/volunteer has the right and duty to refer the case directly to the Merton Safeguarding Adults Team.
The Manager and Chair of the Management Committee may consider that those involved may require counselling. Where it is felt there is a need for counselling (which could be for the vulnerable adults, other clients, staff or carers involved); the Management and Chair of the Board of the Management Committee will make the necessary arrangements.
Confidentiality and trust should be maintained as far as possible, but staff and volunteers must act on the basis that the safety of the vulnerable adult is the overriding concern. The degree of confidentiality will be governed by the need to protect the vulnerable adult. The vulnerable adult should be informed at the earliest possible stage of the disclosure that the information will be passed on. All conversations regarding a vulnerable adult should always be held in private and any notes taken will be kept fully confidential and separate from any general client information.
The organisation complies with the requirements of the Data Protection Act 1998, which allows for disclosures of personal data where this is necessary to protect the vital interests of a vulnerable adult.
Whatever happens, you should always be open and honest with the vulnerable adult if you intend to take the case further.
Staff/volunteers must not discuss the case with anyone other than those involved in the case. If staff/volunteers have any concerns about the progress of the case or have any other concerns these must be discussed with the designated Safeguarding Officer or the Drop-in Manager.