Safeguarding is everybody’s business and we should all look for signs that indicate someone may need help. North Cumbria Integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust (NCIC) is going one step further and directly asking patients who access their services ‘How safe do you feel?’. This is to help make sure victims of abuse have a safe space to be heard.
This approach alongside education, training and enhanced support has seen the Trust’s reported safeguarding referrals for the three months from June to August, double compared to the same period last year.
Kelly Marsden is the safeguarding adults lead for NCIC and she has been leading the campaign. She said:
“We know that my colleagues and I are in a unique and privileged position to help those who are experiencing any form of abuse or neglect. Victims of abuse are very likely to either access our services directly because of abuse – for example through A&E, or for other reasons such as health visiting or community nursing. Staff across all of our services are in a position to offer advice and help to those who are victims of abuse. We are committed to making a difference to the lives of individuals and families that experience abuse.
“We know that abuse can take on many different forms, the signs of which are often unseen, unheard or untold. Signs of abuse are not always obvious, if we only look out for physical injuries we miss a whole cohort of people who need our help. That is why we urge all staff, as part of their routine health enquiries, to ask ‘How safe do you feel?’”
The Trust is committed to supporting victims of abuse and providing a safe space to be heard. Staff will make sure that patients are given the opportunity to speak to them on their own.
Kelly added: “We also know that people are less likely to disclose abuse or neglect unless directly asked. Those who are not experiencing abuse violence or neglect don’t mind being asked, but more importantly those who are, often want to be asked.”
You will see a range of posters displayed in waiting areas in the Trust explaining that we will ask you how safe you feel. The posters depict people from a range of backgrounds, ages and abilities. This is to highlight that abuse does not discriminate and can affect anyone.
The ‘How safe do you feel’ initiative is endorsed by NHS England, North Cumbria and North East Integrated Care Board, Cumbria Constabulary and Victim Support.