Health and Wellbeing of the Adult Social Care Workforce (Department of Health and Social Care)

Looking After Yourself (Skills for Care)

Taking Care of your Staff’s Mental Health (Mind) 

May 2023 – This new chapter is based on Health and Wellbeing of the Adult Social Care Workforce published by the Department of Health and Social Care. It includes advice and links to other information that employers and managers can use to help build the resilience of their team and address any concerns their staff may have.

1. Introduction

With increasing pressure on services, it is vital that all those providing care and support to adults – both employers and employees – are able to take time to think about their health and wellbeing, as well as that of their colleagues and the people and families they support.

The information in this chapter is taken from Health and Wellbeing of the Adult Social Care Workforce (Department of Health and Social Care). Whilst the guidance was written during the COVID pandemic, it includes relevant advice and links to other information that employers and managers can use to help support the resilience of their teams and address any concerns their staff may have.

2. Mental Wellbeing

The following steps can be useful when promoting the mental wellbeing of staff:

  • have a structure to the day, and try to develop a daily routine; writing a plan for the day or week may be helpful. It is also important that staff keep doing things they enjoy as this can give relief from anxious thoughts and feelings and can boost mood;
  • physical health has a significant impact on mental wellbeing. As the body releases endorphins when exercising, this can relieve stress relief and also boost mood;
  • maintaining relationships with family and / or friends is important for mental wellbeing. Staying in touch with people on the phone or via video or social media is particularly if people are feeling anxious;
  • avoid continually checking the news – via 24-hour channels and social media – as this can make people feel more worried and anxious. It may more helpful to only check the news at set times in the day;
  • good-quality sleep can have a positive impact on how people feel mentally and physically. Every Mind Matters gives advice on how to get a good night’s sleep;
  • people should be asked if they are ‘ok’, and always encouraged to seek help if they are struggling. Services available include:
    • sending a message with the word FRONTLINE to 85258 to start a conversation with the Shout messaging support service;
    • Samaritans offer support NHS and social care workers in England. They can be contact for free, day or night, on 116 123;
    • Every Mind Matters which provides comprehensive support, tips and ideas on mental health and wellbeing.

2.1 How managers can help

During supervision, managers should check in with their staff and ask about their wellbeing (although staff should be clear they can ask for help in between supervision sessions if they are struggling).  Mind recommend developing Wellness Action Plans with staff as a practical well of supporting their mental health and wellbeing.

See also Wellbeing Resource Finder (

3. Building Resilience and Managing Stress and Anxiety

It is important that staff are helped to find ways of coping with increased pressure. Skills for Care has a guide on how to build personal resilience which includes tasks for staff to complete that help to recognise pressure and stress. It provides advice on developing resilience through emotional intelligence, accurate thinking and realistic optimism.

MindEd provides free educational resources on mental health.

The Every Mind Matters page on managing anxiety provides advice on managing worries that people may have.

Other information and support includes:

 4. Physical Wellbeing

Staff should try to keep active, where and when possible. This can include walking outside or running or riding a bike once a day, as fresh air is extremely beneficial for mental health.

For those who are not able to exercise outdoors, there are several online workouts that can be done at home. The NHS provides free, easy 10-minute workouts and the NHS Fitness Studio has a collection of accessible exercise videos.

Staff should ensure they get rest and respite during work or between shifts, eat healthily, engage in physical activity and stay in contact with family and friends. People should avoid unhelpful coping strategies such as tobacco, alcohol or other drugs. In the long term, these can worsen mental and physical health.

Advice on what to do if a person has Covid-19 can be found on the NHS website.

5. Financial Wellbeing

Financial wellbeing is about people having a sense of security and having enough money to meet their needs; it is about being in control of day-to-day finances and having the financial freedom to make choices that allow people to enjoy their life.

There are a number of organisations to help staff with financial problems they may have:

  • Mind– money and mental health;
  • Citizens Advice– help for people who are struggling to pay their bills. It is important that bills are not ignored as this can make the situation worse;
  • National Debtline provides free, confidential and independent advice on dealing with debt problems.

There is also information on:

6. Concerns about Work

It is important that people’s rights as workers are protected, especially during times of increased pressure. Similarly, staff have a professional duty to act if they are concerned that the safety of those they care for is at risk. If any member of staff has any concerns about employment practices, it is important that they feel able to raise them.

Any concerns should be raised with the senior management team in the first instance. There will be internal procedures in the workplace about what to do.

Staff can also contact their union or professional body, if they have one, for advice about what to do if they have concerns. They can play a helpful role in trying to resolve any problems staff may be facing and improve workplace practice.

Finally, if staff want to report a serious case of bad practice or have been unsuccessful in resolving any issues with their organisation, they can contact CQC and / or the safeguard adults team in the local authority.

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This chapter provides information for multi-agency practitioners about how to keep safe, both professionally and personally, when using social media.


Using Social Media Wisely, Health and Care Professions Council

1. Introduction

This guidance provides information about how to minimise risk to yourself, and others, whilst using social media sites. Commonly used social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content such as videos and photographs.

As a health or social care professional it is your responsibility to protect yourself as far as possible from allegations of wrongdoing online and whilst using digital technology, to avoid potentially inappropriate or damaging situations. As your job involves direct work with adults and their families who may be experiencing challenging and stressful circumstances, it is possible that some people may post information online about staff or the service that is wrong or upsetting.

It is vital therefore that, in order to protect the reputation of the organisation and staff, the response is always professional, proportionate and measured.

In such situations, managers may need to respond to and take action against those posting such material; guidance is provided below to help protect staff and volunteers working with the public.

2. Steps to Minimise Risk

2.1 Privacy settings and passwords

Check your privacy settings across all social networks. This can be done by going to ‘Settings’ and reviewing the current privacy settings. Updating privacy settings is vital to being able to protect yourself online and is just as important as keeping a credit card safe, for example.

The privacy settings of some social media sites can be set up to send posts just to particular groups, such as close friends, rather than all ‘friends’. Such options are worth considering when thinking about sharing information that you would not necessarily want all people to know.

Remember some information cannot be hidden however tight privacy settings. Names and profile images will always be visible on Facebook for example, so choose images or photos carefully.

By logging out of your social networks and then searching for yourself you can see how your profile appears to the public.

Regularly update your passwords. Do not use the same one across all social media accounts. This will help avoid someone hacking into your account and posting inappropriate status updates or images.

You can also make it more difficult to be found online, by changing your name or surname for example.

2.2 Connect wisely

Many people have far more friends on social media than they know personally. But it is wise only to connect with people that you know and trust. Even people you know, however, may post comments or share material that you do not like or agree with.

In such cases think about whether to ‘unfriend’ that person rather than be associated with someone whose views you do not share.

If it is someone you know and like, discuss their posts with them if you find it uncomfortable.

Consider the purpose of the site, and use it accordingly. For example, LinkedIn is for professional connections. It is best, therefore, not to accept requests to connect if the message contains suspicious text or the person seems to have no connections, location, education or vocation similar to you.

2.3 Post, share and access wisely

2.3.1 Personal information

Think carefully before you post photos and text.

If you would not say it in public or to your manager, or want them to see certain images, you should not put it on social media however tight your privacy settings. Online friends can share or repost / re-tweet your updates, so you can lose control of what you say and display.

Remember, some things are best only shared in person or by telephone or even not at all, not via social media including email.

It is illegal to access or download material that promotes or shows criminal behaviour. Do not access any illegal or inappropriate websites on your personal computer or mobile phone, not even for personal or professional research purposes. This includes illegal or inappropriate images of children, some pornography or extremist websites.

Photos and texts sent to mobile phones and tablets can also be shared by others, so be careful what you send to others or what images you allow people to take of you. Sometimes images are accompanied by personal information, including name, address and links to their social media profiles. Sharing certain private images or films may be an offence under the Criminal Justice and Courts Act 2015. It applies both on and offline, and to images which are shared electronically or more traditionally so includes uploading of images on the internet, sharing by text and email, or showing someone a physical or electronic image.

Be careful using social media whilst under the influence of alcohol. Whilst your own posts can be edited the next day, there is often not much that can be done about other people’s replies.

Take care when in contact with others via web cam internet sites (for example chat rooms, message boards, social networking sites and newsgroups). Avoid inappropriate communication with anyone you think may be under 18, or anyone with whom who you may be considered to be in a position of trust. Avoid inappropriate communication with those who you do not know. Adults can pose as children using interactive technology; likewise some children can pose as adults.

2.3.2 Professional Information

See also Using Social Media Wisely, Health and Care Professions Council and Professional Standards Guidance, Social Work England

Posting information in relation to adults with whom you work, or their family or friends, is allowed. This is likely to be a breach of data protection legislation and confidentiality requirements (see Data Protection: Legislation and Guidance chapter), and even if it is illegal, it is professionally unethical and may result in disciplinary action being taken. For example, families have seen and subsequently made formal complaints about social workers who – whilst not disclosing any personal information – have posted following court cases which have found in the local authority’s favour.

Posting information about work colleagues of any grade, whilst not illegal, is not advised. It can damage working relationships and cause difficulties in the work environment. Again, it may lead to disciplinary action being taken.

Consider also the possible implications of out of office hours discussions with colleagues via social media about controversial issues such as politics, for example. Working relationships can sometimes be negatively affected by such disagreements.

2.4 Review content

If you have used social media accounts over a number of years, it may be useful to review earlier entries to see if there is any content you posted when you were younger that you would not now post. If so, it would be best to delete it.

Check what others post about you, as this also contributes to your social media profile even if you did not post it yourself. If you are not happy with being tagged in a particular photo or status update, contact the person or organisation concerned via messaging or email (rather than via a public discussion) and politely ask them to remove it, explaining why.

Getting content taken down by the social media company can be difficult and may have to involve the police, which should only be reserved for extreme cases.

2.5 Act wisely

Whilst you should always share personal information with caution, in particular do not contact adults or their families via personal email, social media or telephone. This includes former users of the service. If you wish to keep in contact with any such person, only use work emails or telephone numbers to communicate with them. Discuss your intention with your line manager in advance, and seek their advice.

In order to further protect yourself, do not geotag or location tag your photographs.  Whilst the photos might not be easily identifiable, the location could lead to identification and let others know your whereabouts including your home address or those of your family and friends.

Ensure you follow your organisation’s Acceptable Use Policy / IT and email procedures. If you breach any part, report it immediately to your manager or other designated member of staff, as set out in the policy.

If there is any incident regarding the use of social media that concerns you, report it immediately to your line manager. Document it as soon as possible, according to your workplace procedures.

4. In Summary

Use common sense and professional judgement at all times to avoid circumstances which are, or as importantly could be viewed by others, to be inappropriate.

Remember, computers, tablets and mobile phone technology may be the virtual world, but they very much impact on real life. Treat people the same through electronic communications as you would on a personal basis.


  • Think carefully before you post anything online;
  • Search on your own name to see what others can see about you and take action if there is anything that makes you feel uncomfortable;
  • Protect and regularly change your passwords;
  • Regularly review your privacy settings;
  • Make it more difficult to be found online (for example, change your surname).


  • Use inappropriate language;
  • Expect your friends or family to know how to protect your online reputation and how information they may post could impact on you professionally;
  • Have a public social media presence – do not set your privacy settings to public unless relevant;

Tag yourself or allow yourself to be tagged photos or videos;

Accept or send friend requests to adults who you have met through the course of your work who use services, their family or friends.

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1. Introduction

Employers need to make sure, to the best of their ability, that the people who they employ – as paid staff, volunteers or contractors – are committed to providing good quality care and support to adults, their carers and other family members, including children.

Carrying out robust criminal records checks is part of a number of safer recruitment measures which can help  prevent unsuitable people being employed to work with vulnerable groups.

As well as thorough recruitment processes, ongoing training, staff supervision and appraisal programmes are all important to ensuring safer working practices.

2. Disclosure and Barring Service

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions. It is responsible for:

  • processing requests from organisations for criminal records checks (know as DBS checks) on individuals;
  • deciding whether it is right that a person should be put on, or removed from, a barred list;
  • placing or removing people from the DBS children’s barred list and adults’ barred list for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

As well as processing requests and making decisions, the DBS maintains the adults’ and children’s Barred Lists (see Section 4, Barred Lists and Duty to Refer) which bar someone from working in a job that involves regulated activity.

3. Disclosure and Barring Service checks

The minimum age at which someone can be asked to apply for a criminal record check from the DBS is 16 years old.

Before an organisation requires a standard or enhanced check through the Disclosure and Barring Service, it is legally responsible for ensuring the job is eligible (see Eligibility, DBS).

The DBS eligibility tool can be used to determine what type of check a particular role could be eligible for:  Find out which DBS Check is Right for your Employee

3.1 Types of disclosures

There are four types of disclosure:

  • a basic check: which shows unspent convictions and conditional cautions.
  • a standard check: which shows spent and unspent convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings;
  • an enhanced check: which shows the same as a standard check plus any information held by local police that’s considered relevant to the role;
  • an enhanced check with a check of the barred lists: which shows the same as an enhanced check plus whether the applicant is on the adults’ barred list, children’s barred list or both.

Under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, many convictions or cautions become ‘spent’ after a specified length of time, known as the ‘rehabilitation period’. This means that once the rehabilitation period has been completed, they will not show on a basic DBS check. Applicants do not need to tell anyone about a spent conviction unless they are applying for a job where a standard, enhanced, or enhanced with barred lists DBS check is needed.

3.2 Adult first check

See Types of DBS checks and how to apply (DBS)

DBS adult first is a service available to organisations who can request a check of the DBS adults’ barred list. Depending on the result, a person can be permitted to start work, under supervision, with adults before a DBS certificate has been obtained.

There are strict criteria:

  • the role must require a criminal record check by law;
  •  it must be eligible for access to the DBS adults’ barred list;
  • the organisation must have requested a check of the DBS adults’ barred list on the DBS application form.

The DBS’ reply to an adult first check request will state either:

  • option 1: ‘Registered body must wait for the DBS certificate’; or
  • option 2: ‘no match exists for this person on the current adults’ barred list’

It will also state that it is only the first part of the criminal record check application process and that further information will follow.

f the adult first check indicates that the registered body must wait for the DBS certificate, it may indicate there is a match on the DBS adults’ barred list. However, further investigation will be required to confirm this and the organisation should wait to receive the certificate.

3.3 Update service

The DBS provides an online Update Service, to which staff or volunteers can subscribe and review annually for a small fee (free for volunteers). This helps them keep their DBS certificate up to date, so it can be taken with them from one job to another, as long as they remain within the same workforce (working with adults for example) unless:

  • an employer asks them to get a new certificate;
  • they need a certificate for a different type of ‘workforce’ (for example, they have an ‘adult workforce’ certificate and need a ‘child workforce’ certificate);
  • they need a different level of certificate (for example, they have a standard DBS certificate and need an enhanced one).

Employers can do immediate online checks of people who have registered with the update service. The update service is for standard and enhanced DBS checks only (see 3.1 Types of Disclosures).

A new DBS check will only be required if the update service check indicates there has been a change in the person’s status, due to new information added.

4. Barred Lists and Duty to Refer

There are two barred lists maintained by the Disclosure and Barring Service covering those who are:

  • barred from working with children;
  • barred with working with adults.

A person who is barred from working with children or adults commits a criminal offence if they work, volunteer or try to work or volunteer with the group from which they have been barred.

An organisation which knows they are employing someone who is barred to work with that particular group, will also be committing a criminal offence.

Legally an organisation must make a referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service if two conditions are met:

  • Condition 1 – permission for the person to engage in regulated activity with children and/or vulnerable adults is withdrawn. Or the person is moved to another area of work that isn’t regulated activity. This includes situations when this action would have been taken, but the person was re-deployed, resigned, retired, or left.
  • Condition 2- there are concerns the person has carried out one of the following:
    • engaged in relevant conduct in relation to children and / or adults. An action or inaction has harmed a child or vulnerable adult or put them at risk or harm or;
    • satisfied the harm test in relation to children and / or vulnerable adults. For example, there has been no relevant conduct but a risk of harm to a child or vulnerable still exists; or
    • been cautioned or convicted of a relevant (automatic barring either with or without the right to make representations) offence.

See the DBS referral flowchart.

5. Regulated Activity with Adults

See Regulated activity (adults) – Department of Health and Social Care

Regulated Activity is work which involves close and unsupervised contact with adults, and which cannot be undertaken by a person who is on the Disclosure and Barring Service’s Barred List for adults.

There are six categories of activity which fall within the definition of regulated activity (including anyone who provides day to day management or supervision of people carrying out these roles):

  • providing health care;
  • providing personal care (e.g. providing/training/instructing/or offering advice or guidance on physical assistance with eating or drinking, going to the toilet, washing or bathing, dressing, oral care or care of the skin, hair or nails because of an adult’s age, illness or disability; or prompting and supervising an adult to undertake such activities where necessary because of their age, illness or disability);
  • providing social work;
  • providing assistance with cash, bills and/or shopping;
  • providing assistance in the conduct of a person’s own affairs, e.g. by virtue of an enduring power of attorney;
  • conveying / transporting an adult (because of their age, illness or disability) either to or from their place of residence and a place where they have received, or will be receiving, health care, personal care or social care; or between places where they have received or will be receiving health care, personal care or social care. This will not include family and friends or taxi drivers.

There is a duty on a ‘regulated activity provider’ to find out whether a person is barred before allowing that person to carry out regulated activity tasks in their work.

It is a criminal offence for a person on one of the barred lists to carry out regulated activity tasks, or for an employer / voluntary organisation knowingly to employ a barred person in a regulated activity role.

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This chapter provides information for multi-agency practitioners about how to raise concerns at work, known as whistleblowing. It includes information for staff who have concerns about something they have witnessed, been told about or have other suspicions about wrongdoing in the workplace.


Speak Up – free, independent, confidential advice on the speaking up process

Whistleblowing for Employees (

Whistleblowing (Social Work England) 

Raising a Concern with CQC: A Quick Guide for Health and Social Care Staff about Whistleblowing

September 2022: This chapter has been reviewed and updated throughout. Links to sources of support and advice for staff who have concerns have also been added.  See above and the appendices.

1. Introduction

Whistleblowing, or raising a concern, is where a worker (an employee, former employee, trainee, volunteer, agency worker or member of an organisation) reports a wrongdoing to their employer or another relevant organisation. Any wrongdoing reported in this way must be in the public interest. This means it must affect others, for example the general public.

Such wrongdoing may specifically relate to:

  • criminal activity;
  • a miscarriage of justice;
  • danger to the health and safety of any individual;
  • damage to the environment;
  • a failure to comply with any legal obligation; and / or
  • the deliberate concealment of any of the above matters.

There is a difference between a member of staff raising a concern / whistleblowing and making a complaint or grievance. A grievance or private complaint is about a person’s own employment position and there is no public interest element in this. For example, a worker may raise a grievance against a colleague for breaching their confidentiality. Organisations will have a specific grievance procedure to cover such situations. This is not whistleblowing.

Adults who use services, their relatives or members of the public can also make complaints about staff or services. They can do so by making a complaint to the organisation using their complaints procedure, or something to another body such as the Care Quality Commission for example (see Section 2.1 Raising a concern). This is not whistleblowing.

Any concerns relating to an adult who is experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect must be reported via these safeguarding adults procedures (see Safeguarding Enquiries Process section).

Legal protections for whistleblowers mean that no one acting in good faith when raising a concern will be penalised for doing so (See Section 4, Protection and Support for Whistleblowers). Any attempt to victimise employees for raising genuine concerns or attempts to prevent such concerns being raised should be regarded as a disciplinary matter.

However, knowingly and intentionally raising malicious, unfounded allegations should also be regarded as a disciplinary matter.

Whistleblowing does not:

  • require employees to investigate in any way in order to prove that their concerns are well founded (although they should have reasonable grounds for their concerns);
  • replace the organisation’s grievance procedure which is available to employees concerned about their own situation;
  • replace the organisation’s disciplinary procedure; or
  • replace the complaints procedure (whistleblowing is not the same as a complaint).

2. Information for Concerned Members of Staff

2.1 How to raise a concern

A worker can blow the whistle to their employer following the guidance in their local whistleblowing policy or to a “prescribed person or body”. Employers should investigate concerns reported to them thoroughly, promptly and confidentially. The person who has raised the concern should be told how the concern will be dealt with and provided with a timescale for a response.

A prescribed person or body provides staff with a way to raise their concern with an independent body when they do not feel able to disclose directly to their employer. When reporting concerns to a prescribed body, it must be the one which deals with the type of issue being raised, for example a disclosure about possible wrongdoing in a care home can be made to the Care Quality Commission. See Whistleblowing: list of prescribed people and bodies (

Workers can also report concerns to a third party such as a professional body or a member of the press. This is known as a ‘wider disclosure’. This type of disclosure must meet tougher tests in order for it to be protected, than a disclosure made to an employer or prescribed person or body.

2.2 Reporting concerns anonymously or confidentially

Concerns can be raised anonymously, but the employer or prescribed body may not be able to take the claim further if they have not been provided with all the information they need.

Whistleblowers can give their name but request confidentiality – in this situation, the person or body you tell should make every effort to protect the person’s identity.

2.3 Action as a result of raising concerns

This will depend largely on the nature of the concerns raised; the most likely outcome is that the concern will be investigated by staff within the organisation.

Where appropriate, concerns that are raised may:

  • be investigated by management, internal audit, or through the disciplinary process;
  • be investigated under another procedure, for example safeguarding adults;
  • be reported to the organisation’s standards or management committee / team;
  • be referred to the police;
  • be referred to an external auditor;
  • form the subject of an independent inquiry.

Where possible, within 10 working days, the member of staff raising the concern should receive in writing:

  • an acknowledgment the concern has been received;
  • an indication how the matter will be dealt with;
  • where applicable, an estimate of how long it will take to provide a final response;
  • information on staff support mechanisms;
  • contact details of the designated contact person dealing with their concern.

If, during the investigation, the staff member is concerned about what progress is being made, requires support or reassurance, or feel they may be being victimised or harassed as a result of making the disclosure, they should raise this with the designated contact /supporting organisation.

The designated contact should inform the staff member in writing of the outcome of their concern. However, this will not include details of any disciplinary action that may result, as this will remain confidential to the individual/s concerned.

Please note: due to the likely sensitive nature of raising concerns at work, the member of staff should discuss the matter with as few people as possible.

2.4 The staff member does not agree with the outcome

If the member of staff does not agree with the way their concerns have been dealt with by local management, they may choose to escalate their concerns to senior management.

The staff member may otherwise feel it necessary to report their concerns to an external body, however this must be appropriate for the issue concerned. See Appendix 2, Useful Organisations for a list of prescribed persons.

3. Recording

A record of concerns raised together with a record of action taken in response should be provided to the staff member who raised the concern.

4. Protection and Support for Whistleblowers

The Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 provides legal protection against detriment for workers who raise concerns in the public interest.

Bullying, harassment or victimisation (including informal pressures) by other members of staff towards someone who raises a concern will not be tolerated.

Senior management should be vigilant and may need to take appropriate action to protect staff who raise a concern in good faith.

Staff must not threaten or take retaliatory action against whistleblowers. Anyone involved in such conduct will be subject to disciplinary procedures.

If a staff member believes they have suffered any such treatment, they should inform their manager – or suitable other person – immediately. If the matter is not remedied they should raise it formally through the organisation’s grievance procedure.

Appendix 1: Advice for Workers

Online tool to help employees decide how to raise their concern – Employees Online Tool for Raising Concerns, Whistleblowing Hotline Speak Up.

Appendix 2: Useful Organisations

Whistleblowing: list of prescribed people and bodies – contains a list of the prescribed persons and bodies.

Protect; Speak up, Stop harm – a UK whistleblowing charity which provides free independent legal advice to staff and others who wish to raise concerns about the workplace.

Speak Up – Whistleblowing Helpline

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This chapter outlines the importance of close working between children and adult practitioners. Practitioners working with adults who are concerned about a child have a duty to report their concerns.


South Tyneside Safeguarding Children Procedures

1. Introduction

Although the South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board and Safeguarding Children Partnership have has statutory duties and responsibilities as a result of different legislation (Care Act 2014; Children Act 1989, Children Act 2004, Children and Social Work Act 2017), there are significant overlaps in the processes they use, and the organisations and professionals which support the adults and children’s safeguarding partnerships to deliver their objectives.

Such areas of common work include young people transitioning between children’s and adult services (see Transition to Adult Care and Support chapter), domestic abuse (see Domestic Abuse chapter), and working with complex families. These provide potential for joint working between children’s and adults practitioners and senior managers. It is important therefore that any joint working practices or opportunities for joint working and sharing of information are explored. This offers opportunities to develop direct formal links between members who sit on the Safeguarding Adults Board and Safeguarding Children Partnership.

2. Responsibilities to Safeguard Children

See Working Together to Safeguard Children (Department for Education)

If a professional working with an adult becomes aware a child is suffering or is likely to suffer significant harm, they have a duty to safeguard and promote the welfare of the child. All staff must be aware that where there is a concern that an adult experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect and there are children in the same household, the children too could be at risk.

As well as safeguarding and child protection issues, agencies or professionals who work with adults can also have a key role in referring a child for early help which involves relevant services providing support as soon as a problem emerges at any point in a child’s life.

In such instances staff should make reference to the South Tyneside Safeguarding Children Procedures  and / or contact South Tyneside Children’s Social Care (see Local Contacts).

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This chapter provides information for practitioners in relation to local multi-agency training in relation to safeguarding adults from abuse or neglect.



Safer Recruitment and Employment


Safeguarding Training Programme Calendar

The South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board should ensure that relevant partners provide training for staff and volunteers on the policy, procedures and professional practices that are in place locally, which reflects their roles and responsibilities in safeguarding adult arrangements. Employers, student bodies and voluntary organisations should also undertake this, recognising their critical role in preventing and detecting abuse. This should include:

  • basic mandatory induction training with respect to awareness that abuse and neglect can take place and duty to report;
  • more detailed awareness training, including training on recognition of abuse and neglect and responsibilities with respect to the procedures in their particular agency;
  • specialist training for those who will be undertaking enquiries, and managers; and
  • training for elected members and others for example Healthwatch members; and
  • post qualifying or advanced training for those who work with more complex enquiries and responses or who act as their organisation’s expert in a particular field, for example in relation to legal or social work, those who provide medical or nursing advice to the organisation or the Safeguarding Adults Board.

Training should take place at all levels in an organisation and be updated regularly to reflect best practice. To ensure that practice is consistent – no staff group should be excluded.

Training should include issues relating to staff safety within a health and safety framework and also include volunteers. In a context of personalisation, the Safeguarding Adults Board should seek assurances that directly employed staff (for example personal assistants) have access to training and advice on safeguarding.

Training is a continuing responsibility and should be provided as a rolling programme. Whilst training may be undertaken on a joint basis and the Safeguarding Adults Board has an overview of standards and content, it is the responsibility of each organisation to train its own staff.

Regular face to face supervision from skilled managers and reflective practice is essential to enable staff to work confidently and competently with difficult and sensitive situations.

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Health and Wellbeing of Staff

Each partner agency should have its own supervision policy and procedure, which is tailored to meet the needs of its staff, service and the adults and carers with whom it works.

Supervision is an accountable process which supports, assures and develops the knowledge, skills and values of an individual, group or team. The purpose of supervision is to improve the quality of work to achieve agreed objectives and outcomes. Effective supervision is an integral part of adult safeguarding practice; it is also an essential element of the performance management framework. It should support staff in developing and maintaining effective working relationships with adults and their carers and with other professionals, whilst simultaneously exercising professional judgement, effective decision making and carrying out other duties associated with their individual role. It should also tie the overarching strategic objectives of the service with the individual personalised objectives of each member of staff.

It must be educative, supportive, empowering and a benefit to supervisor, supervisee and the organisation. Supervision must be sensitive to the individuals ethnic and cultural background, disability, gender and sexual orientation.

In the reflective environment of supervision, and in conjunction with their manager, staff should be able to consider their developmental and learning needs, review identified actions necessary to address such needs and subsequently evidence practice improvement.

Good quality supervision can help to:

  • avoid drift;
  • keep focus on the adult with care and support needs;
  • maintain a degree of objectivity and challenge fixed views;
  • test and assess the evidence base for assessment and decisions;
  • address the emotional impact of work.

The supervision process should incorporate four main functions:

  • management, including performance management;
  • professional development;
  • support;
  • practice reflection.

At the outset of the supervisory relationship expectations of the supervisor and the supervisee should be established and recorded. This includes frequency of meetings, content of supervision sessions, recording of meetings and sign off, and action to be taken if either party becomes dissatisfied with the relationship, or outcomes of the sessions.

Supervision usually takes place on a one to one basis, although can also be part of a group session as well. It is a process rather than a series of single events or sessions and should complement and support the appraisal process by evidencing the continuous improvement and performance of the supervisee.

Issues discussed at each supervision session should be recorded and signed by the manager and counter signed by the staff member, who should also be provided with a copy. This may be done via email as an electronic documentation of the agreement.

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This chapter provides information about the recruitment and employment processes which organisations should use to safeguard adults from abuse and neglect.


Disclosure and Barring

Person / People in Positions of Trust (PIPOT) – Multi-Agency Practice Guidance



Better Hiring Toolkit (Disclosure and Barring Service and partners)

1. Introduction

Safer recruitment, induction and supervision of staff are essential to the safeguarding of adults with care and support needs. All organisations should have generic recruitment policies and procedures in place. This chapter provides additional, specific guidance in relation to safer recruitment practices at each step of the generic recruitment process, which aims to prevent unsuitable persons from working with adults, either as a paid member of staff or volunteer whether they are permanent, temporary or agency staff or recruited from abroad. In addition, it applies to staff / volunteers who are seen by adults with care and support needs as trustworthy and / or have access to confidential information. This may include administrative staff, caretakers, and maintenance workers for example.

Commissioners should ensure the principles of safer recruitment and employment are included in service level agreements or contracts drawn up between them and service providers. A service level agreement or contract should also contain the service’s safeguarding statement (see Section 2.1 Commitment to safeguarding).

2. Safer Recruitment Practices

2.1 Commitment to safeguarding

All organisations should have a statement about their commitment to the prevention of abuse and neglect and promoting the wellbeing of adults with care and support needs, to which it is expected all staff and volunteers will abide and embed in their daily practice. This should include that robust recruitment and selection procedures are in place to identify and deter people who might abuse or neglect adults with care and support needs or who are otherwise unsuitable for employment / volunteering. The statement should be included in recruitment material such as job adverts, candidate information packs and person specifications.

2.2 Safeguarding policies

Organisations should publish a safeguarding policy for staff which clearly relates to these Safeguarding Adults Procedures, and sets out the responsibilities of all staff. It should include information on:

  • identifying adults who are particularly at risk;
  • recognising risk from different sources and in different situations and recognising abusive or neglectful behaviour from other service users, colleagues, and family members;
  • routes for making a referral and channels of communication within and beyond the agency;
  • organisational and individual responsibilities for whistleblowing (see Whistleblowing chapter);
  • assurances of protection for whistleblowers;
  • working within best practice as specified in contracts;
  • working within and co-operating with regulatory mechanisms;
  • working within agreed operational guidelines to maintain best practice in relation to:
    • challenging or distressing behaviour;
    • personal and intimate care;
    • control and restraint;
    • gender identity and sexual orientation;
    • medication;
    • handling of people’s money;
    • risk assessment and management (read risk guidance for people living with dementia).

Organisations should also produce guidance outlining the rights of staff and how employers will respond where abuse is alleged against them within either a criminal or disciplinary context (see Person / People in Positions of Trust (PIPOT) – Multi-Agency Practice Guidance)

2.3 Job adverts

The advertisement should include the organisation’s policy statement (see Section 2.1, Commitment to safeguarding). It should also include reference to the requirement for the successful applicant to undertake a Disclosure and Barring Service check, as appropriate.

2.4 Job description

The job description (JD) should be specific about extent of contact and levels of responsibility the post holder will have for adults with care and support needs, including prevention of abuse or neglect at operational and / or strategic levels.

2.5 Person specification

The person specification (PS) should include any other requirements the post holder will need in order to perform the role in relation to working with adults with care and support needs, including experience specific to the post, for example working with adults with learning disabilities or dementia. The successful candidate should be able to demonstrate such required competencies and qualities.

2.6 Candidate information pack

The information pack should also highlight that a robust selection process is in place, and include reference to the organisation’s safeguarding adults’ policy. It should state proof of identity will be required, as well as a Disclosure and Barring Service check, as appropriate.

2.7 Application form

Employers should only use their own application forms for applicants. It is not good practice to accept curriculum vitae (CVs) instead of an application form as this may only contain information the person wants to present rather than all the information the organisation requires to enable shortlisting. The applicant form should again include reference to the organisation’s commitment to safeguarding adults with care and support needs.

2.8 Shortlisting

Application forms should be scrutinised for any unexplained gaps in employment history, or other potential concerns in relation to safeguarding adults. References should be sought on all candidates who are shortlisted for interview.

2.8.1 Requesting references

Where an applicant is not currently working with adults with care and support needs, but has done so previously, a reference should also be obtained from the last such employer, in addition to the current / most recent employer. This should include confirmation of the reason why the applicant left the post.

The referee should state:

  • whether they are satisfied the applicant has the ability and is suitable to undertake the job, and if not why;
  • whether they were the subject of any disciplinary sanctions or any allegations made against them, which relate to adults (including outcomes).

2.9 Interviews

The interview should assess the merits of the candidate against the JD and PS, and explore their suitability to work with adults with care and support needs.

The panel should state to each candidate there will be a requirement to complete an application for a Disclosure and Barring Service check, confirm their identity and receive satisfactory references.

One member of the panel should be trained in safer recruitment practice.

The panel should explore with the candidate:

  • their attitude towards adults with care and support needs, including any specific needs of adults of the service, including reasons why they want to work with such adults;
  • their ability and commitment to the organisation’s agenda for safeguarding and promoting wellbeing;
  • any gaps in their employment history;
  • discrepancies / concerns in relation to any information provided by either them or a referee;
  • if they wish to declare anything in relation to applying for a Disclosure and Barring Service check;
  • their understanding of appropriate relationships and personal boundaries;
  • emotional resilience in working with in challenging situations.

2.9.1 Participation of adults with care and support needs

Adults who use the service can make very valuable contributions as part of recruitment of new staff positions. Their participation should be built into the process at all levels, from administration posts to senior positions. Their roles should be clarified with the adults who participate, so they understand how their views will be considered and what weighting they will be given.

2.10 Conditional offer of appointment

Offers of appointment will be conditional on receipt of satisfactory checks and references.

In the following circumstances the applicant should be reported to the police:

  • they are found to be on a list concerning their suitability to work with adults / have been disqualified from working with adults by a Court;
  • they provided false information in relation to their application;
  • there are serious concerns about their suitability to work with adults.

2.10.1 Disclosure and Barring Service checks

See also Disclosure and Barring Service chapter.

The level of Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check requested – either Standard or Enhanced – should reflect the nature of the post and degree of contact with adults or with confidential information.

Types of DBS check are as follows:

  • Basic check: The basic check can be used for any position or purpose. A basic certificate will contain details of convictions and cautions from the Police National Computer (PNC) that are considered to be unspent under the terms of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act (ROA) 1974.
  • Standard check: This allows employers to access the criminal record history of people working, or seeking to work, in certain positions, especially those that involve working with children or adults in specific situations. A standard check discloses details of an individual’s convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings recorded on police systems and includes both ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions;
  • Enhanced check: This discloses the same information provided on a Standard certificate, together with any local police information that the police believe is relevant and ought to be disclosed;
  • Enhanced with barred list check: This check includes the same level of disclosure as the enhanced check, plus a check of the appropriate barred lists. An individual may only be checked against the children’s and adults’ barred lists if their job falls within the definition of ‘regulated activity’ with children and/or adults;
  • • Adult First check: adult first is a service available to organisations who can request a check of the DBS adults’ barred list. Depending on the result, a person can be permitted to start work, under supervision, with vulnerable adults before a DBS certificate has been obtained.

For guidance on which type of DBS check is appropriate for the role being advertised, please see the DBS website. 

A record of the following should be kept; date the disclosure was obtained, by whom, level of disclosure and unique reference number.

In relation to adults with care and support needs, it should be noted that in ‘signing off’ or agreeing a personal budget or personal health budget a local authority may add conditions such as a DBS check as part of its risk assessment of safeguarding in specific cases. The local authority may also require personal budget holders using direct payments to tell them who they employ.

2.10.2 Checks on overseas staff

The same checks should be made on overseas staff as for all other staff, however the Disclosure and Barring Service. cannot access criminal records held overseas, so a DBS check may not provide a complete view of an applicant’s criminal record if they have lived outside the UK.

Where an applicant has worked or been resident overseas in the previous five years, the employer should obtain a check of the applicant’s criminal record from the relevant authority in that country as well as information about their conduct. It should be noted that not all overseas organisations / countries are able to provide such information. The application process for criminal records checks or ‘Certificates of Good Character’ for someone from overseas varies between different countries. For further information, see GOV.UK – Criminal records checks for overseas applicants.

2.10.3 Agency staff

Written confirmation should be provided by the agency that the necessary checks have been undertaken and are satisfactory.

2.11 Record Keeping

In relation to each candidate who is appointed, records should be made of:

  • any specific information raised with them (for example gaps in employment history) and their explanation and any corroborating information;
  • the outcome of their Disclosure and Barring Service check including unique reference number and date (please note – DBS information should, in general, only be retained for six months after the recruitment decision, then destroyed);
  • reasons for decision to appoint despite criminal convictions, including risk assessment undertaken.

3. Induction

On starting in a new post, the member of staff should be given written information in relation to:

4. Supervision and Staff Review and Development

Regular supervision sessions should take place as per the organisation’s policies and procedures, as should annual staff reviews. Both processes aide both the organisation and member of staff by ensuring:

  • staff are up to date with current practices in relation to their specific area of work and safeguarding adults in general (both local and national issues);
  • identify areas for development;
  • provide opportunities to identify and address any concerns about behaviour and / or attitudes;
  • develop any required action plans and review arrangements.

5. Disclosure and Barring Service Rechecking

The DBS also provides an online Update Service, to which staff or volunteers can subscribe and renew annually for a small fee (free for volunteers). This helps them keep their DBS certificate up to date, so it can be taken with them from one job to another, as long as they remain within the same workforce (adults, for example). See Disclosure and Barring Service chapter, Update Service.

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1. Introduction

This section covers the responsibility of organisations, with leadership from the South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board, to support staff and to ensure that there is a well trained workforce equipped to safeguard adults who are experiencing or at risk of abuse and neglect. These responsibilities are highlighted in the Adult Safeguarding Improvement Tool.

Workforce development is a key enabler of change to meet the standards set out. The tool enables effective scrutiny of safeguarding work at all levels and across all agencies with safeguarding responsibilities in the context of Making Safeguarding Personal and ensuring greater independence and choice for users of services. The shift in culture and practice, in response to what we now know about what makes safeguarding more or less effective from the perspective of the person being safeguarded, is the greatest challenge for organisations.

For agencies involved in making Section 42 enquiries, there may be particular cultural and learning and development needs including improving skills in:

  • communication with a wider range of people;
  • risk assessment – making complex interpretations of information about the safety and wellbeing of people in order to balance professional assessment of risk with the rights of adults at risk to determine their own safeguarding outcomes.

A positive workplace culture (key in preventing abuse in the provision of care) should be developed through strong leadership and management.  Changes in the way that the workforce responds to concerns about abuse or neglect may mean that some organisations may have to assess their capacity to meet their safeguarding responsibilities.

2. Prevention

Knowing how to stop abuse and neglect and prevent it happening in the first place should be at the forefront of safeguarding developments. Staff need to be mindful of potential risks and discuss these with people who might be at risk of abuse or neglect at every opportunity, giving them information and support that enables them to make informed choices. Awareness campaigns for the general public and multi-agency training for all staff might contribute to achieving these objectives

Dealing with the variety of need is better achieved by professionals understanding the underlying principles of good practice in assessment, risk management and safeguarding work, and developing the expertise to apply them throughout.

3. Safe Organisations

A safe organisation ensures that its governing body, all of its employees, commissioned or contracted agents and volunteers or adult participants are aware of their responsibilities to safeguard children and adults. This includes:

  • safer recruitment / selection practice;
  • good induction systems;
  • ongoing training / updates for staff (and others) in minimum standards in adult safeguarding;
  • clear access to guidance / procedures for both children and adult safeguarding;
  • awareness of local protocols and systems for information sharing and referral;
  • developing a listening culture to adults with an open mind and promoting person-centred;
  • clear and accessible complaints and whistleblowing procedures;
  • adherence to agreed local procedures for responding to concerns and allegations of abuse and neglect of harm by persons in positions of trust;
  • independent advocacy and support;
  • good record keeping;
  • a formal and independent review process for learning from serious incidents, SARs and other reviews that may impact on adult safeguarding;
  • regular audits of the above to ensure compliance;
  • leadership / accountability in a named senior manager and clear access to specialist advice about adult safeguarding (externally if not available within the organisation).

4. Recruitment and Barring

All organisations that employ adults or volunteers to work with children or vulnerable adults should adopt a consistent thorough process of safer recruitment to ensure those recruited are the best candidates for the role and are suitable to work with vulnerable groups. The Disclosure and Barring Service provides Criminal Records Checking and Barring Functions to help employers make safe recruitment decisions. In addition, recruitment processes should evidence:

  • right to work in the UK;
  • application process (forms, supporting statements, curriculum vitae, interview and selection);
  • qualifications;
  • verifiable references.

5. Related Issues

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974: people working with children or vulnerable adults are required to reveal all convictions, both spent and unspent. Registration with professional bodies: if registration with a professional body is a condition of employment, staff are responsible for maintaining their registration. Employers should carry out compliance audits as part of their safeguarding quality assurance measures.

6. Induction

It is important for all workers to know exactly what is expected of them in their role. Employers should ensure that there is an agreed induction period that covers cultures, standards, human resources policy and procedures, terms and conditions. Additionally, staff should be supported through this period to understand their safeguarding role and responsibility.

7. Professional Development

For frontline workers in health and social care, the Care Certificate (Skills for Care) sets out the minimum standards required and aims to ensure that workers have the same introductory skills, knowledge and behaviours to provide compassionate, safe and high quality care and support. It is designed for new staff, but also offers opportunities for existing staff to refresh or improve their knowledge. It was developed jointly by Skills for Care, Health Education England and Skills for Health.

The Care Certificate:

  • links to National Occupational Standards and units in qualifications;
  • gives workers a good basis from which they can further develop their knowledge and skills.

For managers in adult social care there are also Manager Induction Standards (Skills for Care).

Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) is designed to help newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) to develop their skills, knowledge and capability. It aims to strengthen their professional confidence. It aims to provide them with access to regular and focused support during their first year of employment. Their safeguarding skills should be developed as part of this process.

8. Learning and Development

South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board will lead and each organisation will determine their own Learning and Development activities which may include seminars on specific topics, practice development forums whereby staff learn from audits and performance data, and peer challenges as well as formal training. Learning and Development activity should be informed by learning from SARs and a shared approach to learning.

9. Training

All organisations need to ensure that staff and volunteers have access to training and continuous professional development that is appropriate to their level of responsibility. Safeguarding adults and mental capacity training is mandatory in most organisations. It is suggested that at a minimum it should cover:

  • recognising different types of abuse and how to raise a concern;
  • mental capacity, consent and best interest;
  • Making Safeguarding Personal;
  • risk and how to manage it;
  • duties under Section 42 on enquiries;
  • recording.

In addition to the suggested mandatory training, other areas to consider are:

  • advocacy;
  • dignity and respect;
  • domestic abuse;
  • mediation;
  • living with risk;
  • people whose behaviour challenges;
  • SARs;
  • self-neglect;
  • complaints;
  • working with carers.

Some organisations may have specific mandatory training.

10. Supervision and Appraisal

Supervision is essential to supporting practitioners, and provides assurance for both the organisation and the practitioner. Workers should feel confident that they are supported to deliver safeguarding and have the right training and professional development through regular supervision and appraisal. Staff should be encouraged to further their knowledge base through gaining additional skills and knowledge. Organisations should ensure that staff receive clinical and/or management supervision that affords them the opportunity to reflect on their practice and the impact of their actions on the adult and others. Supervisors should be qualified to take on these responsibilities.

Appraisals are central to effective practice. Appraisals ensure that all staff are focused on outcomes and have clarity about their role. Staff should expect to receive an annual appraisal, linked to the overall safeguarding strategic plan.

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