Maria’s Blog – Safeguarding Awareness

Last week, I got the dreaded ‘call from school’ on my mobile phone in the middle of the work day.

My 9-year-old had choked on a grape, stopped breathing, and was given the Heimlich manoeuvre by his PE teacher. “He’s absolutely fine,” the school reassured me. It was over before I knew it had started.

But it could have gone differently.

Like any over-thinking parent, I started worrying uselessly: “But what if nobody had seen him? What if his friends had thought it was a joke? What if the PE teacher had been too scared to actually use his first aid training? What if he had thought it wasn’t his job? (he’s here to teach football, not roam the lunchroom looking for choking children). What if the teaching staff hadn’t been paying attention? What if it was too late?

My kid was ok because people, yes, had been trained properly, but also because they were looking out for him and acted when they saw something wasn’t right.

We take Safeguarding training seriously at SIG. Our Nimble e-learning accounts have two modules we ask staff to do.

But the really important step, is how we look out for the people around us and act when something isn’t right.

If you feel like something just isn’t right but can’t put your finger on why, do you take a moment to listen to this feeling, and talk it over with a trusted manager?

If you see something that might be a Safeguarding concern, do you brush it off thinking that if there really is something wrong, someone else will pick it up, it’s someone else’s responsibility, you don’t need to be involved?

If you tell someone else about your concerns, do you feel you’ve done your part and don’t need to worry anymore, or do you make sure you follow the reporting process and see it through to protect the Residents and Participants in your care, and your colleagues around you?

We’ve all seen heart-breaking stories in the news of mistreatment or abuse not being stopped, where the question inevitably gets asked: “How did the people around them miss this?”

The NHS says ‘Safeguarding is a collective responsibility’. Skills for Care say that ‘everyone working in…social care needs to understand how their role contributes to the safety of the people they support’.

Safeguarding is all of our jobs.

I once worked on a Safeguarding case where people involved in the fact-finding didn’t think that the issues they had seen met the criteria or were ‘bad enough’ to be a Safeguarding concern. This is why learning the signs of potential abuse is so important. But equally, why being personally engaged and committed to the safety and wellbeing of those around us is just as important.

We are all responsible, and what a powerful and brilliant opportunity that is to continue to have meaningful impact in our day-to-day lives. We can be someone’s support! We can be that person who ensures the homes and spaces we work are free from mistreatment or abuse. We can be like my son’s PE teacher, who kept his training up to date, kept his eyes open, and is the reason a 9-year-old ended the day with the highlight being a fun story about an ambulance ride, and nothing more than that.

Thank you for all you do. Please reach out to me if you have any Safeguarding conversations you’d like to have.