Safeguarding In Health And Social Care Organization
Task 1A: LO1 Scenario
1.1 Why a Particular Group or Individual May be Vulnerable to Abuse or Harm
An abuse can be defined as an act done to a person that harms him or her in a certain way. The act may occur once or continuously over a period and can either be deliberate or accidental. Abuse can be in form of physical, sexual, psychological and financial or neglect. In a health or social care organization, different individuals come for treatment and home-based care services. Some of such individuals and groups are more vulnerable to abuse and harm than others. An individual may be subjected to abuse or harm depending on his or her health conditions. Some of the reasons why certain individuals and groups are more vulnerable to abuse and harm in a social care organization include age, physical disabilities, psychological problems, race/ethnic minorities, financial incapacity among others.
Aged individuals are often vulnerable to physical harm in a social care unit. The main reason is that they have less physical strength to do things on their own. Many aged people also face several health challenges, such as sicknesses. It is the reason many aged individuals often fall down when they are left alone. Physical disabilities, such as blindness, body fracture or inability to walk, are among the reasons why some individuals might suffer abuse or harm. Mental retardation is another reason for abuse and harm. People who are mentally retarded should be monitored all the times or else they might do something that can cause them physical harm.
Being a particular race or ethnic group can result in harm or abuse. One of the major causes of abuse or harm to such groups of individuals is discrimination. The aspect of discrimination against a race and ethnic group is common in many organizations, including health and social care organizations. Such groups of individuals face abuse and harm from their peers in the care facility or even from the caregivers. In addition, financial inability is another reason for abuse in social care organization. Even though there are social care facilities that offer free services, many of the care providers need money from their clients to operate. As a result, a client with financial challenges might not be properly handled by the caregivers and health professionals within the facility.
1.2 Risk Factors
Risk factors can be classified into two main categories: risk factors among caregivers and risk factors among clients in the care facility. Even though many caregivers are enthusiastic about the services they give to their clients, the work has several challenges. Care giving responsibilities and demands of certain clients, such as elderly or mentally challenged often escalate as the patients’ condition deteriorate. Such situations make the work to be extremely stressful because the caregiver needs to take a close look at the patient all the time. In case a caregiver is exhausted, the patient may be at a serious risk of getting harmed or abused.
Some patients’ conditions are so stressful that they may lead to mental and physical health problems. The situation exhausts the caregiver and makes them unable to control the situation. Lack of resilience or inability to cope with the patients’ conditions can cause them serious harm or abuse. Depression is a common problem among caregiver and a factor that might lead to the clients’ abuse and harm. A depressed caregiver can either neglect the patient or do something that might hurt them. Neglect from caregivers may also expose clients in a social care facility to various risks that can result in injuries and abuse. Caregivers’ perception is another risk factor. Certain caregivers perceive that taking care of particular individuals, especially elderly clients is burdensome and does not provide psychological reward.
Clients also indicate risk factors that may expose them to harm and abuse. The main risk factor of clients is the intensity of their physical illnesses or psychological conditions. It would be a challenge for caregivers to effectively take care of clients with serious health conditions. The situation may expose them to injuries and abuse. Social isolation is another risk factor among patients. The fact that caregivers and clients are often alone most of the time create boredom and lack of concentration among caregivers. On the other hand, patients also become bored and attempt to do other things or to leave the facility. As a result, they might be harmed or abused in the process. History of domestic violence among particular clients is another risk factor. Such clients often exhibit violent behaviours. Certain clients, especially those with mental illnesses, tend to show verbal and physical aggression towards their caregivers and other personnel members.
1.3 Impact of Social and Cultural Factors
Abuse or harm to vulnerable individuals or a particular group of individuals is not only a social problem but also a global issue. The World Health Organization recognizes abuse or harm of individuals with physically or mental disabilities, as well as the elderly as a violation of rights. On the other hand, many governments across the world have enacted laws that protect such vulnerable groups from abuse and harm. However, the act of abuse among vulnerable individuals and groups still occurs in many social contexts, especially in health and social care institutions. Such abuses and harms lead to premature morbidity and mortality rates among these people.
Continuous abuse and harm to such people often result in a cultural trend and tradition in the society. For instance, discrimination against certain ethnic group by caregivers may create discriminative culture among patients within the facility. The situation might increase the rate of their exposure to danger. Harm and abuse also cause anxiety and distress not only to caregivers but also to the victims because they live under fear of being assaulted or insulted. Abuse and harms change cultural and social norms because they are considered vices in several sociocultural contexts. Healthcare laws and related regulations, in their guidelines, provide for equitable services to clients in a social care facility or any other health care organization.
Task 2: LO1 Scenario
2.1 Strengths and Weaknesses of Legislations and Policy
There are local and international legislations and policies that tend to protect vulnerable individuals in the society from abuse. One of the most important aspects of such laws and policies is that they are recognized globally. Locally, there are laws adopted to protect the rights of vulnerable groups in the society, both outside and within social care facilities. State laws provide guidelines on how to comprehend and try people who are suspected to have abused or harmed vulnerable persons. Another group that plays an important role in ensuring laws and policies that protect vulnerable groups from abuse and harm is human right activists.
Many underlying laws and policies have been disjointed over the years by separate jurisdictions within a particular system in regards to specific abuse and harm concerns. The changes in legislation and policy over the years have been caused by the inconsistency of agencies adopted to reinforce the laws. Another challenge also arises from the way a state manages the vast resources allocated for the multiple human services with respect to consistency of its policies and practices. Over the past three decades, the role of state as a direct provider of the human services has drastically reduced. It occurred due to the fact that state institutions have either been closed or downsized as services are changed to community-based.
The community-based services are predominantly controlled and delivered by private organizations, which are certified, licensed, controlled and funded by the state. Even though it is the responsibility of the state to fund human services offered by such organizations, the problem occurs in how such services, especially connected to the abuse and harm of the vulnerable groups, are carried out. It is caused by the fact that execution of such legislations and policies often results in several processes that involve different state agencies to accomplish a specific case of abuse or harm. On the other hand, there are several state agencies that provide direct delivery of human services, such as protection against abuse and harm. However, there is no common set of performance objectives or code of conduct that helps make employees engaged with such vulnerable individuals accountable.
Unless such legislations and policies are formed under a strong rationale, there will still be inconsistent policies and processes among the state agencies to accomplish a particular goal. Ineffectiveness of such policies creates unnecessary challenges to the care receiver and provider organizations. It is important, especially where several states are involved in delivering protective services to vulnerable groups in social care systems with different groups of people. There are several discussions still underway to establish policies and regulations that will protect vulnerable individuals and groups in health and social care facilities.
2.2 Roles of Professionals in Protecting Vulnerable Groups to Abuse
In health and social care facilities that host vulnerable groups, there are different professionals who should be responsible for the users’ safety. Even though a given professional may not be responsible in all cases, the truth is that each professional plays a role in ensuring that vulnerable clients within the facility are safe. The most important professionals are the caregivers. Although some of them are non-professionals, caregivers often undergo training on how to take care of patients. They spend most of the time with the patients and provide routine care and administer medication as directed by clients’ physician. A caregiver cleans and feeds patients, washes their bedding and clothes and provides them with other essential needs, such as physical and emotional training. They monitor and control safety measures of the vulnerable individuals. In fact, caregivers are professionals responsible for the people’s safety in a care facility.
Professionals such as doctors, nurses and therapists are also responsible for the safety of such individuals vulnerable to abuse and harm. There are health and social care facilities that employ nurses as the caregivers. As compared to non-professional caregivers, nurses have advanced knowledge in healthcare provision and medication. They can administer medical prescriptions by doctors in their absence. They can study, interpret and medically respond to patients’ signs and symptoms of diseases. They play a major role in ensuring that vulnerable groups in the facility are treated in time to avoid body harm or abuse that may be caused by lack of treatment. Doctors are also responsible for their diagnoses, prescribing and administering medication in time to keep the patient in good physical and mental conditions. On the other hand, therapists often deal with the vulnerable individuals who are mentally retarded. Their efficient response to patients’ conditions reduces the risk of harm or abuse.
Task 3: LO3 Scenario
3.1 Existing Practices
There are several existing practices adopted by social care organizations to reduce the abuse and harm among vulnerable groups. Training is one of the major practices adopted by many organizations. All staff members and volunteers often receive training on the current policies, procedures and professional practices, which conform to local legislations and policies. There are professionals who conduct training to the staff and volunteers in order to ensure there is an adequate staff training and induction into the facility. Knowing one’s role is an important aspect of abuse prevention strategy. Many of the social care facilities assign specific roles to their staff members. It improves the workers’ integrity and responsibility. When a staff member makes a mistake, he or she becomes solely responsible.
Many health and social care facilities include appropriate managerial and clinical supervisions which are well-coordinated with the aid of appropriate communication channels. Although caregivers are trusted with their work by the care institution, they are supervised to ensure they work effectively with minimum risk exposure to patients. They have their supervisors whom they report to. It creates a chain of command and improves the responsibility of every staff member. Antiracism and anti-discriminatory policies and practices are among strategies used to prevent abuse. Caregivers are trained to treat clients equally irrespective of their ethnic, social, cultural or racial backgrounds. Health and safety measure practices are adopted by organizations to minimize abuse and harm incidences. They also do risk assessment in order to evaluate the extent to which patients are vulnerable to abuse and harm and then use retraining measures.
3.2 Effectiveness of Working Practices and Strategies
Although the working practices have been helping in reducing risks of abuse and harm in healthcare facilities, it has not been more effective in some areas. Many social care systems have been using risk analysis approach in order to implement working practices with minimum risks. They include internal and external assessment of the facility. Internal assessment include the assessment of the vulnerable group, caregivers, nurses, medical professional, care facilities and management. The above aspect must coordinate and work in a procedural manner in order to reduce the cases of abuse and harm. One of the strategies deployed after risk assessment is appropriate communication channel among the workers, management and clients. Communication and coordination among the stakeholders within a given facility reduces risk factors. It ensures that all services are done in a professional and procedural manner and that they are done at the right time and place.
Although many organizations tend to adopt anti-discrimination policies within their facilities, it is a challenge because it has much to do with perception. For instance, a caregiver may develop negative perception against a patient with a particular ethnic or social background. As a result, such caregivers tend to discriminate against those groups of individuals even after receiving appropriate training. With the high rate at which social care organizations receive clients, many of them lack the capacity to provide effective services. One of the major challenges is lack of care equipment and premises that safely accommodate vulnerable groups. In addition, many of such organizations include volunteers who do not stay in the facilities for long, which also reduces the effectiveness of the systems.
3.3 Improvement in Working Practices and Strategies
Working practices, such as oral and written communication have helped in improving service delivery to the vulnerable groups. The use of information technology has made it easier for professionals within a social care system to share vital information in real time. It ensures that clients receive fast response. Anti-discriminatory and anti-oppressive practices ensure that every user of the facility is attended to at the right time by the right staff to reduce discriminative abuses. Use of threshold approach helps control the conditions within the system in a manner that limits risks. Identifying risk factors through risk assessment and predictions has also helped the organizations to implement appropriate equipment, professionals and technologies required to reduce the risk of harm and abuse.
Organizations also identify every individual or group with their unique needs for services. For instance, they categorize and allocate different facilities for adults, children and other vulnerable groups that share common problems. Such strategies make it easier for the workers to offer services to the clients. Working in partnership with clients has also improved the outcome in many social care facilities. It also includes collaborative working relationship among professionals within the system. Involving everyone in decision making motivates workers and clients as they feel part of the system. Many organizations have also reviewed their regulations and training policies to conform to the local regulations on harm and abuse of vulnerable groups.
In a given health and social care facility, users have different problems that are either mental or physical. Although some of them do not indicate serious health complications, other users have adverse health conditions. Such clients may do little or nothing at all to support themselves. Such vulnerable people are prone to sustaining physical or psychological harm and abuse. Although there are laws and policies that protect the rights of vulnerable people in social and healthcare systems, the current structure of laws and policies and procedures of their practices are ineffective. However, many organizations have adopted working practices and strategies that have improved service delivery to vulnerable groups. They include training, coordination and communication, sharing of information through IT and working relations among workers and users.