NI Adult Safeguarding
SECTION C: Underpinning Principles
All Adult Safeguarding activity must be guided by five underpinning principles. These are cited directly from the Adult Safeguarding: Prevention and Protection in Partnership Policy (NI), (2015) and are also central to the Church’s Christian values and ethics.
A Rights-Based Approach: To promote and respect an adult’s right to be safe and secure; to freedom from harm and coercion; to equality of treatment; to the protection of the law; to privacy; to confidentiality; and freedom from discrimination.
Agencies and professionals who intervene in the lives of adults at risk should be guided by current best practice, the law and respect for rights set out in the European Convention on Human Rights and enshrined in domestic law by the Human Rights Act 1998 acting in accordance with relevant UN and EU Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the UN Principles for Older Persons 1991. Any intervention to safeguard an adult at risk should be human rights compliant. It should be reasonable, justified, proportionate to the perceived level of risk and perceived impact of harm, carried out appropriately, and avoid restricting an individual’s rights and freedoms as far as possible. It cannot be arbitrary or unfair, and all adults should be offered the same services on an equal basis.
An Empowering Approach: To empower adults to make informed choices about their lives, to maximise their opportunities to participate in wider society, to keep themselves safe and free from harm and enabled to manage their own decisions in respect of exposure to risk.
For adults at risk of harm, empowerment is a process through which individuals are: enabled to recognise, avoid and stop harm; facilitated to make decisions based on informed choices including provision of support for those who lack capacity to make decisions; assisted to balance taking risks with quality of life decisions; supported and enabled to seek redress; and, for adults who have been harmed, a process whereby they are enabled to recover their self-confidence and self- determination and make informed choices about how they wish to live their lives.
A Person-Centred Approach: To promote and facilitate full participation of adults in all decisions affecting their lives taking full account of their views, wishes and feelings and, where appropriate, the views of others who have an interest in his or her safety and well-being.
A person-centred approach is a way of working with an individual to identify how he or she wishes to live their life and what support they require. A person-centred approach to adult safeguarding demonstrates respect for the rights of the individual at its core, in particular, respect for the right of the individual to make their own informed choices and decisions. A person-centred approach should result in the individual making informed choices about how he or she wants to live and about what services and supports will best assist them, with cognitive and communication support being provided where necessary. Where the person lacks capacity to make a decision, best interest decisions should be made by relevant professionals which take all available information into account, including information about previously expressed preferences or choices made by the person being safeguarded.
A Consent-Driven Approach: To make a presumption that the adult has the ability to give or withhold consent; to make informed choices; to help inform choice through the provision of information, and the identification of options and alternatives; to have particular regard to the needs of individuals who require support with communication, advocacy or who lack the capacity to consent; and intervening in the life of an adult against his or her wishes only in particular circumstances, for very specific purposes and always in accordance with the law.
Consideration of consent is central to adult safeguarding in determining the ability of an adult at risk to make lifestyle choices, including choosing to remain in a situation where they risk being harmed; determining whether a particular act or transaction is harmful or consensual; and determining to what extent the adult can and should be asked to take decisions about how best to deal with a given safeguarding situation. For consent to be valid, the decision needs to be informed, made by an individual with capacity to make the decision and made free from coercion, constraint or undue influence. Each decision must be considered on its own merits as an adult may possess capacity to make some decisions but not others and/or the adult’s lack of capacity to make decisions may be temporary rather than permanent. A consent-driven approach to adult safeguarding will always involve making a presumption that the adult at the centre of a safeguarding decision or action has the capacity to give or withhold consent unless it is established otherwise.
A Collaborative Approach: To acknowledge that adult safeguarding will be most effective when it has the full support of the wider public and of safeguarding partners across the statutory, voluntary, community, independent and faith sectors working together and is delivered in a way where roles, responsibilities and lines of accountability are clearly defined and understood. Working in partnership and a person-centred approach will work hand-in-hand.
Harm resulting from abuse, exploitation or neglect can be experienced by adults in a range of circumstances, regardless of gender, age, class or ethnicity. Adults who are at risk, suitably supported, must be central to the partnership, either as participants in preventative activities or protection intervention, or as contributors to decision-making in connection with the development of safeguarding policy, strategy and procedures. Where it is not possible for an adult at risk to contribute directly as a participant or contributor, consideration must be given as to how they can be suitably supported to ensure that they are involved at an appropriate level. Successful adult safeguarding requires effective arrangements for all involved to work together. The strength of a collaborative approach will depend on the commitment and support from the highest level to safeguarding adults.