Service efficiency
Nov 22, 2023

Safeguarding in social care: How to support vulnerable people

For National Safeguarding Adults Week 2023, Mark Topps takes a look at its role in social care and how care professionals can stay vigilant for clients.

Mark Topps
Mark Topps
Regional Business Manager

Table of contents

Although it's national safeguarding adults week, protecting people's health and overall wellbeing is a duty that should be honoured at all times. In this blog post, I want to explore how to identify vulnerable people, how to go about helping them, and the vital role that the social care sector plays in supporting them – all through the lens of safeguarding adults.

What is National Safeguarding Adults Week?

National Safeguarding Adults Week is an opportunity for organisations to come together to raise awareness of important safeguarding issues.  

The aim is to highlight key safeguarding issues, start conversations and raise awareness of safeguarding best practice. This year’s theme is focusing on how you can prioritise the welfare and wellbeing of yourself and others.  

When is National Safeguarding Adults Week 2023?

National Safeguarding Adults Week in 2023 takes place between Monday 20th November to Friday 24th November.  

Our role of safeguarding in social care

Safeguarding means protecting people's health, wellbeing and human rights, and enabling them to live free from harm, abuse and neglect.  

It's fundamental to delivering high-quality health and social care.  

Safeguarding adults includes:

  • Protecting their rights to live in safety, free from abuse and neglect.
  • People and organisations working together to prevent the risk of abuse or neglect, and to stop them from happening.
  • Making sure people's wellbeing is promoted, taking their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs into account.

How you can identify vulnerable adults

Usually, adults with mental health problems, physical or learning disabilities, or other health problems manage to live their lives comfortably and securely. In most cases, people live independently or with help from relatives, friends, neighbours, professionals or volunteers.

However, a small number of adults may experience harm, such as:

  • Physical abuse
  • Being bullied or threatened
  • Being forced or pressured into non-consensual sexual activity
  • Having their money or possessions taken
  • Not receiving the care that they need

An adult may tell you that they are being harmed. More often, the sign that they are being harmed is something you see or hear.

The adult might:

  • Behave in an unusual way
  • Have injuries or regularly get infections
  • Suddenly become confused
  • Be unusually drowsy most of the time
  • Be scared of another person or be scared of going home
  • Be overly worried or upset
  • Not have much money or food
  • Be left in a situation where they are at serious risk, which could be avoided
  • Not be receiving appropriate medical care
  • Be depressed, withdrawn or suspicious
  • Have needs that are not being met

Alternatively, someone might tell you something that makes you think that an adult is being harmed.

The Angus Council and Essex Safeguarding Board websites are both good resources where you can dive deeper into what Safeguarding is, signs and symptoms.

How to report safeguarding concerns

If you suspect that an adult is at risk of harm or abuse, it is essential to report your concerns to your line manager and the relevant authorities.  

The safeguarding process relies on people coming forward and sharing their concerns or gut feeling, as this is the first step in ensuring the individual's safety.  

There is no one way to set up safeguarding records, but there are key things that should be in place:

  • Records should be started as soon as you become aware of any concern
  • Use clear and straightforward language
  • Be concise and accurate, so they can be understood by anyone not familiar with the case
  • Clearly differentiate between facts, opinions and judgements
  • Make sure they’re up to date and preferably in chronological order

The National Council for Voluntary Organisations have more information on storing and sharing safeguarding information.

How you can raise awareness and get involved

National Safeguarding Adults Week is an ideal time to raise awareness about safeguarding and the importance of vigilance in our communities. It is an opportunity to educate ourselves, our teams and others about the signs of abuse, neglect, and exploitation and to encourage open dialogue on these vital issues.  

By learning about the signs of abuse, neglect, and harm, and by actively participating in the safeguarding process, we can make a significant difference in the lives of vulnerable adults.  

Here are some things you could do to raise awareness and get involved:

  • Host training sessions to upskill you team, the people you support and their loved ones about safeguarding, the types etc.
  • Put some posts up on your company social media and ask people to comment and share.
  • Share other posts to help raise further awareness of safeguarding and National Safeguarding Week.
  • Ensure the people you support have access to advocacy. Advocates can help individuals express their wishes and protect them from potential abuse or manipulation.
  • Create and prominently display information posters and leaflets about National Safeguarding Week or your local safeguarding team in communal areas to ensure that everyone is aware and have the details needed.
  • Organise a community event or information session where community members can visit the care home, learn about your safeguarding policies, find out more about social care and engage in discussions on the topic.
  • Ensure that all residents, staff and their loved ones are aware of how to report safeguarding concerns and the confidentiality and support provided in such cases.
  • Join or support local safeguarding events and initiatives during the week.  
  • Use Safeguarding Week as an opportunity to gather feedback from residents and their families on how the care home can improve its safeguarding practices.
  • Reach out to local newspapers, radio stations  and TV channels to share your activities and stories related to Safeguarding Week, potentially gaining wider community exposure.

You can also raise awareness of the 5 R's of safeguarding:

  1. Recognise – the signs of abuse and neglect.
  1. Respond – appropriately to concerns about abuse and neglect.
  1. Report – concerns to the appropriate authorities.
  1. Record – information accurately and appropriately.
  1. Review – safeguarding practices regularly to ensure they are effective.

The Ann Craft Trust has some great resources to help you get prepared.  


Remember, Safeguarding Week is about the opportunity for organisations to come together to raise awareness of important safeguarding issues.

You do not need to stick to the theme, and even if you do one thing off the list above or one of your own ideas, this could have a domino effect and reach more people than you realise. It is our duty to ensure everyone plays their part is safeguarding those in our services and within our communities.  

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