This week is an important week in the safeguarding calendar as we mark and highlight the importance of ‘Safeguarding Adults Awareness Week’. We are extremely fortunate to have our own, SAFE associate Paul Northcott, share his thoughts and personal experience with us.

Safeguarding Adults Awareness Week not only provides us all with an opportunity to highlight key issues and raise awareness of safeguarding practice, but also to reflect on the enormous amount of good work that has been achieved in the last twelve months.

Over the last twelve months I have been lucky enough to have worked with a wide range of organisations including statutory agencies, those in the private sector and charities who provide care and support for some of the most vulnerable adults in our communities.

What is clear is that they have faced unprecedented challenges to deliver services including pressures on their finances and resources. We have all seen the countless news stories of the current strain on our NHS services in trying to effectively manage the discharge of patients, and on providers who have, and continue to struggle to meet the current demands for care and respite places. We have also seen unprecedented staff vacancies in the Care Home sector. Many of these stories have concluded that the current system is ‘broken’.

I like many others who have worked in the sector are fully aware that the current system needs reform, but in these challenging times it is easy to concentrate on the negatives and forget about the excellent work that is being delivered on a daily basis by frontline staff. On a professional and personal basis, I have witnessed the dedication and compassion of frontline staff and volunteers. I have seen members of care staff treat my own family members as if they were their own, and on a daily basis they have looked after their needs. They have consistently treated them with respect and dignity despite the pressures that they are experiencing. These members of staff  have delivered personal care to the highest of standards, and like any family member they experience the roller coaster of emotions when the people that they care  fall ill or pass away. I have nothing but admiration for the staff and volunteers who work in this sector.

From a professional perspective I have also been impressed by the way in which agencies have worked together to find innovative solutions to address the issues that they have been confronted with. The next twelve months will be incredibly difficult for all of those that work within the sector and there will be challenges in terms of increased workloads, staff shortages, financial constraints, and people will ‘fall through the cracks’ due to these pressures. Strategic leaders in the sector, managers, staff and volunteers know that this is the case and they are continually frustrated by ‘the system’ which often lets them down despite their best efforts. These individuals will however continually and tirelessly strive to deliver services to the best of their ability and within the constraints that have been placed upon them. This might not be good enough, and not what we all want, but we shouldn’t overlook this hard work and personal sacrifice that takes place on a daily basis that keeps the current system working.

As these pressures increase and resources are stretched to the limits we also need to be careful that we don’t lose sight of the work that needs to take place across all partnerships to address new potential sources of harm.  When times are hard criminal gangs will seize on the opportunities to exploit vulnerable people, cases of self-neglect will increase and pressures within households can lead to abuse. Often many of these incidents will remain unreported.  Again I have seen some incredible work that is currently taking place to ensure that people, including those who may become victims, recognise abuse and report it. I have also seen how organisations from both the public and private sector are working together to improve services and promote safer cultures in an attempt to prevent and/or minimise harm.

The work that I have completed for SAFE and elsewhere has shown me that organisations are continually seeking to improve and are putting vulnerable people at that heart of their service delivery. We have a long way to go to achieve the level of services that we would all want, but as we all strive to attain this, we should not forget this hard work and dedication which continues on a daily basis by the staff who are passionate about what they do.


~ Paul Northcott, SAFE Associate ~

To further your knowledge and develop your teams training, please visit our courses where you’ll find  ‘Adult at Risk – Safeguarding Awareness Course’ ‘Adult Safeguarding Criminal Exploitation’ ‘Safer Recruitment’, ‘Safeguarding Adults- Level 5’ amongst many more.

For further information on the guidance for NHS staff, click here