Service Manager Andrea Norton describes the challenges and obstacles of safeguarding during COVID-19.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, we have continued to work hard to maintain business continuity and have remained committed to the safeguarding of all our service users across the region.
Coronavirus restrictions have made us adapt our day-to-day work – virtual meetings, doorstep visits, increased telephone contact and more informal support sessions within our services, whilst practising social distancing. A lot of external agencies have stopped visiting our service users in their homes, meaning Nacro staff me be the only face to face contact our service users receive.
In these unprecedented times, it is more important than ever to ensure that we are in touch with our service users, to make sure they can be as safe and healthy as possible.
Senior and hub managers meet frequently to review circumstances. They will determine which service users are most vulnerable, agreeing RAG ratings and maintaining a regional service user matrix which is reviewed regularly during team meetings. Staff teams continuously work together to ensure that our safeguarding arrangements are clear and effective during this challenging and ever evolving period.
It is essential that as DSO’s and frontline staff we co-ordinate our work to keep our service users safe. We keep in touch and offer support to each other, all while understanding that our roles may change and adapt as we respond to the demands from COVID-19.
We all have a duty to alert possible concerns and act to safeguard others in our services who may be less able to protect themselves. Abuse and neglect are likely to increase due to increased isolation and stress.
Safeguarding is everybody’s responsibility; we all have a role in spotting when things are not right.
Short informal interventions, as and when needed, compared to more a more formal discussion of support delivery, has been positive. This method has not stopped issues arising but is helping to minimise the overall impact on our service users, as well as others around them. Staff holding more informal support sessions (sometimes something as simple as staff sitting on the floor outside the service users room door for a chat), have noticed that service users are more engaged, open and willing to speak more freely about any issues. This then quickly will alert staff to any potential safeguarding concerns.
Lockdown has highlighted that in housing and social care services, some routes into a service and appropriate accommodation for users has been blocked. These service users are then only accepted and moved once a crisis point has been reached
It has been important that we have used escalation routes within social care etc, to keep monitoring and reporting concerns and really push for the support our service users require.
COVID-19 has brought with it many challenges, but at the forefront of our service delivery has been ensuring the safeguarding of all our service users.