Care home managers must make safeguarding everyone’s business

Safeguarding must permeate everything that care homes do, from the food they prepare to the care they deliver, trainer and consultant Sarah Goodall tells Natalie Valios.


Safeguarding conference

Sarah Goodall will be taking part in a panel discussion on best practice in improving safeguarding in care homes at our conference on safeguarding adults in care homes and other residential settings on 4 December. Book before 30 November for a discounted place.


Safeguarding should be the “golden thread” that ties together all aspects of practice in care homes, says Sarah Goodall, managing director of The Athena Programme, which provides training and consultancy on safeguarding vulnerable adults and children.

This means including all staff in safeguarding training, ensuring all your home’s policies and procedures are in line with each other, and working effectively with external agencies involved in helping care homes improve.

“The clear message should be that safeguarding is the golden thread through your practice, with a joined-up approach to ensure your residents have a happy and high quality of life and to minimise safeguarding concerns or incidents,” she says.

Goodall gives care home managers the following tips:

Collaborate with external agencies

Work closely and in collaboration with external agencies. Rather than fear them, try to understand the other organisations’ roles and responsibilities and how they differ from yours. Be aware that those differences may lead to an imbalance of power and focus on outcomes.

Cross-reference your polices

Ensure your policies and procedures are cross-referenced and make connections to one another. This should take account of all aspects of care for example, health and personal care, daily life, nutrition and medication.

Train effectively – and include all staff

Provide adequate and effective staff training that reflects a culture of safer practice and managing risk. Training needs to be tailored to the individual home and for all staff in it, not just care workers or nursing, says Goodall. Safeguarding will not receive the validity it needs unless there is a ‘whole-system’ approach to training from kitchen staff to gardener or handyman.

Make the care plan the focal point

Make the care plan the focal point for your practice. Ensure staff understand that if residents are treated with dignity and respect and, for example, are given medication without any errors and eat nutritious meals, it can lower levels of safeguarding concerns.

“If a Muslim resident has it written in their care plan that they only eat Halal food but they are not given this, it is a safeguarding issue,” says Goodall. “Some people might see this as being about non person-centred care rather than safeguarding, but it is neglectful and could be seen as abusive. This is the problem – people see things in silos, which is why training is so important.”

Put high-quality care at the centre

If all elements of high-quality care are at the heart of what you do, effective safeguarding of adults at risk will inevitably follow, says Goodall.

“This could mean from how the kitchen staff prepare and give food, to how the rooms are cleaned, to nurse-led medication. Each element has the same weighting for safeguarding, prevention and protection.”

Reflective practice for your continuing professional development

Goodall suggests that managers ask themselves the following questions as they seek to embed safeguarding in their homes’ practice:

• Think about your own values, attitudes and beliefs and how this is represented to your staff and how you show this to others within your setting.
• Take a moment to reflect on your external relationships, both with professional agencies and within your local community. Do these feel tense or fearful? Is there a lack of understanding? Are you working towards the same outcomes for your residents?
• How do you review that all the elements of a joint approach to safeguarding are working together?
• Do you include all staff on training? Is training a standard item on the team meeting agenda?

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