10th February 2015

April  will bring a new dawn in the care sector as the existing No Secrets policy is replaced by The New Care Act 2014.

A new world of early intervention and better working together has come to the fore, offering hope for key workers and organisations. They will now be expected to work with a very definite set of mandatory requirements around adult safeguarding.

Treating patients and service users with respect, dignity and compassion was a policy introduced in 2013 within the ‘No Secrets’ paper.

Two years on they are to be replaced by The New Care Act 2014.‘No Secrets’ had set out a code of practice for the protection of those vulnerable adults. The New Care Act promises to provide rigid guidelines on how to safeguard those adults proactively.

April’s changes will show how commissioners and providers of health and social care services are expected to work together to produce and implement local policies and procedures.

They must collaborate with the public, voluntary and private sectors and they also must consult service users, their carers and representative groups. Local authority social services departments should co-ordinate the development of policies and procedures.

The ‘No Secrets’ document came about to protect the most vulnerable in society. It was an update on the The Human Rights Act of 1998 which stated that agencies’ primary aim should be to prevent abuse where possible but, if the preventative strategy fails, agencies should ensure that robust procedures are in place for dealing with incidents of abuse. The circumstances in which harm and exploitation occur are known to be extremely diverse, as is the membership of the at-risk group. The challenge has been to identify the next step forward in responding to this diversity.

In 2014, with enough pressure already on staff the government vowed to spend £100 million on providing nurses and midwives with the latest technologies to help them provide safer, more effective and more efficient care. Surely this technology in 2015 can ensure patient information is passed on with immediate effect?

Sarah Carlick, founder of The Athena Programme, thinks April 1st can’t come quick enough: “Think about how long we have had a child protection system and we still haven’t got things right. I welcome this new phenomenon of constant protection for those adults that may be at risk.  I urge all agencies to work closer together and collaborate for the protection of adults at risk. This is a welcome step forward from ‘No Secrets’ for mandatory requirements for adult safeguarding.

What the new act hopes to do is blow the doors off compartmentalized discussions – they need to be a thing of the past if our most vulnerable adults are to be protected. But it will be carried out to new rules.

The need for this new Act only goes to show that those in the know may not be sharing their personal knowledge or experience of their working environment for fear of accountability.

For the sake of those adults most at risk, the promotion and praise for openness and information sharing will hopefully lessen the number of headlines our care institutions make on a weekly and monthly basis.

Turning a blind eye while we let colleagues take the rap for what is ultimately all our responsibility must become a thing of the past.

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