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Vulnerable Adult Protection Policy

1. Statement

Newmarket-on-Fergus Community Centre CLG is fully committed to safeguarding the well-being of vulnerable adults by protecting them from physical, sexual, psychological, financial or discriminatory abuse and neglect. Newmarket-on-Fergus Community Centre CLG accepts that in all matters concerning vulnerable adults, the welfare and protection of such adults is paramount. Newmarket-on-Fergus Community Centre CLG as an organisation comes into contact with vulnerable adults using our facilities and so it is considered important that we are fully compliant with all relevant safeguarding guidance and legislation. Newmarket-on-Fergus Community Centre CLG requires that any organisations working with children or vulnerable adults provide a copy of their Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons Policy to the Centre. Newmarket-on-Fergus Community Centre CLG aims to adhere to the HSE Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse National Policy and Procedures and to minimise the negative impacts of risk, while respecting and upholding the human rights and inherent dignity of all people involved with us.

2 A Vulnerable Person

A vulnerable person is; ‘an adult who may be restricted in capacity to guard himself or herself against harm or exploitation or to report such harm or exploitation’.

3 Defining Abuse

Newmarket-on-Fergus Community Centre CLG understands the definition of abuse in accordance with the HSE Safeguarding Vulnerable Persons at Risk of Abuse National Policy and Procedures (p. 8). ‘any act, or failure to act , which results in a breach of a vulnerable person’s human rights, civil liberties, physical and mental integrity, dignity or general wellbeing, whether intended or through negligence, including sexual relationships or financial transactions to which the person does not or cannot validly consent, or which are deliberately exploitative. Abuse may take a variety of forms’.

4 Types of Abuse

  1. Physical abuse - includes hitting, slapping, pushing, kicking and misuse of medication, restraint or inappropriate sanctions.
  2. Sexual abuse - includes rape and sexual assault, or sexual acts to which the vulnerable person has not consented, or could not consent, or into which he or she was compelled to consent.
  3. Psychological - abuse includes emotional abuse, threats of harm or abandonment, deprivation of contact, humiliation, blaming, controlling, intimidation, coercion, harassment or verbal abuse.
  4. Financial or material abuse - includes theft, fraud, exploitation, or the misuse or misappropriation of property, possessions or benefits.
  5. Discriminatory abuse - includes ageism, racism, sexism, that based on a person's disability, and other forms of harassment, slurs or similar treatment.

5 Barriers for Vulnerable Persons Disclosing Abuse

  1. Fear on the part of the service user of having to leave their home or service as a result of disclosing abuse.
  2. A lack of awareness that what they are experiencing is abuse.
  3. A lack of clarity as to whom they should talk.
  4. Lack of capacity to understand and report the incident.
  5. Fear of an alleged abuser.
  6. Ambivalence regarding a person who may be abusive.
  7. Limited verbal and other communication skills.
  8. Fear of upsetting relationships.
  9. Shame and/or embarrassment.

6 How to Respond To A Disclosure Of Abuse

A vulnerable adult may carefully select a person to confide in. That chosen person will be someone they trust and have confidence in. It is important that a vulnerable adult who discloses abuse feels supported and facilitated in what may be a frightening and traumatic process for them. A vulnerable adult may feel perplexed, afraid, angry, despondent and guilty. It is important that any negative feelings they may have are not made worse by the kind of response they receive. A vulnerable adult who divulges abuse has engaged in an act of trust and their disclosure must be treated with respect, sensitivity, urgency and care.

It is of the utmost importance that disclosures are treated in a sensitive and discreet manner. Anyone responding to a vulnerable adult making such a disclosure should take the following steps.

  1. Take what the vulnerable adult says seriously.
  2. React calmly, as over-reaction may intimidate the vulnerable adult and increase any feelings of guilt that they may have.
  3. Reassure the vulnerable adult that they were correct to tell somebody what happened.
  4. Never ask leading questions.
  5. Use open-ended questions to clarify what is being said and try to avoid having them repeat what they have told you.
  6. Do not promise to keep secrets.
  7. Advise that you will offer support but that you must pass on the information.
  8. Do not express any opinions about the alleged abuser to the person reporting to you.
  9. Explain and make sure that the vulnerable adult understands what will happen next. Do not confront the alleged abuser.

7 Reporting Procedures

Following a disclosure of abuse, trustee or volunteer should: Write down immediately after the conversation what was said, including all the names of those involved, what happened, where, when, if there were any witnesses and any other significant factors and note any visible marks on the individual making the report or any signs you observed.

  1. Record the event, include the person’s name, address, the nature of the concern, allegation or disclosure, sign and date all reports and indicate the time the notes were made.
  2. Ensure that the information is treated with the utmost confidence.
  3. Allegations should not be investigated by trustees or volunteers.
  4. Trustees or volunteers should pass that report to the Designated Officer.
  5. The Designated Officer will review the situation and decide if they should report the incident to the Gardai or to the HSE or both.

Under no circumstances should a vulnerable adult be left in a situation that exposes him or her to harm or to risk of harm. In the event of an emergency where you think a vulnerable adult is in immediate danger you should contact the Gardaí in the first instance.

8 Confidentiality

All information regarding concern for a vulnerable adult should be shared on ‘a need to know’ basis in the interests of the person concerned. The provision of information to the statutory agencies for the protection of a vulnerable adult is not a breach of confidentiality or data protection. Trustees or volunteers should not give any undertakings regarding secrecy.

9 Criminal Justice (Witholding Of Information On Offences Against Children And Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012

Newmarket-on-Fergus Community Centre CLG understands that failure to record, disclose and share appropriately information about alleged abuse is a failure to discharge a duty of care and that it may be an offence under the Criminal Justice (Withholding of Information on Offences Against Children and Vulnerable Persons) Act 2012 to withhold information in such instances.

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