Safeguarding adults and children

‘Hospitals should do the sick no harm.’ So wrote Florence Nightingale, the founder of modern nursing, over 150 years ago.

These days, health care is delivered in many more places than just hospitals. But Florence’s idea – that people who need health care and who are therefore vulnerable should not be harmed by that health care – still holds true.

Safeguarding adults and children from harm is a big part of your job. In fact, it’s a big part of the jobs of everyone in health care – nurses, health care assistants, chief executives, cleaners, doctors and porters all have the chance to do things to make patients’/clients’ journeys through health care safer. It’s everyone’s responsibility.

This section of the resource will look at how we can safeguard adults and children from harm, starting with a review of the legal requirements surrounding safeguarding (or, in some countries of the UK, ‘protection’) of vulnerable adults, looking at what we mean by ‘vulnerable’ before we consider how to raise concerns and the important issue of disclosure or confidentiality.

Safeguarding is an issue that affects all health care staff, wherever you work. The RCN has published safeguarding guidance for adults and children and young people. The RCN also has a clinical topic on safeguarding. You can also view a video on safeguarding from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).

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