Safeguarding Superheroes! How we can all be one

At Florence, we embark on incredible safeguarding missions that require the assistance of the local safeguarding/adult support and protection teams. Whether it’s detecting potential abuse or supporting services within Section 42 inquiries, Florence has always been there.

But what exactly does safeguarding mean? What’s its purpose? And how can you be a safeguarding superhero?

Let’s embark on an extraordinary journey of imagination and explore how we can all become superheroes within our world of UK social care, where we transform standards into superpowers to provide the best and safest experience for those in our care. So, grab your cape (or maybe an apron?) and let’s unleash the fun side of keeping our services secure and people in our care safe!

The superhero quest: why safeguarding matters

Imagine safeguarding as a thrilling quest, where we embark on a heroic journey to ensure the happiness, well-being, and empowerment of people in care. We strive to create an environment that is dignified and caring. And if we cannot always make them happy and healthy, we will at least stand as their shield, protecting them from any intentional harm caused by “the baddies” or unintentional harm from their surroundings or services that they access.

According to “superhero-worthy” statistics from the UK, we face a formidable challenge in adult social care settings – the battle against abuse! But fear not, for together we can conquer it! Here are some eye-opening facts that shed light on the situation:

– In 2019/2020, approximately 1.6 million adults joined forces with social services in England. Sadly, around 235,000 of them faced abuse or neglect.

– The most common type of abuse reported in adult social care settings is physical abuse, followed closely by psychological or emotional abuse, neglect, financial abuse, and sexual abuse.

– The majority of reported cases of abuse in these settings involve older adults, especially those aged 65 and above. Those living in care homes and home care settings are particularly vulnerable.

– Harm can also occur in unexpected places; Hospitals, day centres, and other care facilities are also areas where we must remain vigilant.

– Alas, the truth is that many cases of harm remain hidden in the shadows, going unreported. This calls for increased awareness and a watchful eye to identify and address these acts.

These astounding statistics remind us of the crucial importance of robust safeguarding measures and the need for continued efforts to protect our vulnerable adults in social care settings. Join us, let us don our capes and fight against harm, ensuring a safe and joyful haven for all!

Assembling the dream team

In the world of safeguarding, you’re not alone: nurses, care assistants, support staff, agency staff, managers – everyone is all part of the dream team, each with a role to play. The team must work together to keep the setting the safest and most enjoyable place for people in care. Picture your team, each with their own unique superpowers and strength.

How to talk superhero safeguarding language

Working in care assumes the role of guardian to people who use the services, the superhero responsible for the shield of adult protection. Just imagine it – a powerful shield that repels any potential harm and ensures the safety of service users, leading the way in safeguarding!

In the UK, we refer to safeguarding in different ways. For example, in England, it is called “Safeguarding Adults”. In Wales, we often use the term “Vulnerable” when describing adults in care. In Northern Ireland, “adult safeguarding” is the preferred term, and in Scotland, “adult support and protection” is used. Regardless of the terminology used, harm is harm, and the signs and indicators are universal. When working in care, safeguarding adults is everyone’s responsibility.

We all have a part to play in safeguarding.

Spotting baddies: signs and signals

Just like superheroes have a knack for spotting trouble, care professionals have the superpower of recognising signs that something might be amiss. Whether it’s changes in behaviour or subtle signals, your keen eye can identify potential harm and take appropriate action. Make every contact count!

Here are some key signs to watch out for:

1. Physical abuse:

– Unexplained bruises, burns, or injuries in various stages of healing

– Broken bones or fractures

– Bite marks or pinch marks

– Sprains or dislocations

– Restraining marks or injuries caused by physical restraints

2. Psychological or emotional abuse:

– Emotional withdrawal or sudden changes in behaviour

– Fearful or anxious behaviour, particularly in the presence of specific individuals

– Low self-esteem or self-worth

– Unexplained changes in sleeping patterns or appetite

3. Neglect:

– Poor personal hygiene, such as unwashed clothes or body odour

– Malnutrition or dehydration

– Lack of necessary medical aids or assistive devices

– Unsafe or unsanitary living conditions

– Social isolation or a lack of social interaction

– Medication errors or not receiving medication on time or at all

4. Financial abuse

– Unexplained or sudden changes in financial situations

– Unauthorised or suspicious use of the individual’s assets or funds

– Sudden changes in wills or other legal documents

5. Sexual abuse:

– Unexplained genital or anal injuries

– Difficulty sitting or walking

– Sexually transmitted infections

– Unwillingness to change clothes or be touched

– Behavioural changes, such as withdrawal or aggression

It is important to acknowledge however, that these signs and indicators should not be taken in isolation, as they can sometimes have alternative explanations.

Supporting survivors of sexual violence and abuse

Last month (February) was Sexual Violence and Abuse Awareness Month, which aligns perfectly with our safeguarding mission. Some of the adults in our care may be survivors of abuse from earlier in their lives. Simply being in care and experiencing a power imbalance or needing assistance with personal care can trigger traumatic memories.

Survivors of abuse may face unique challenges when in adult social care environments. It is essential for care professionals to create a safe and supportive space for these individuals, offering understanding, compassion, and appropriate assistance. Here are some ways to help and support survivors of sexual violence and abuse later in life:

1. Trauma informed care

Adopt a trauma-informed approach to care, recognizing the potential impact of past trauma on an individual’s current well-being. Create an environment that promotes safety, trust, and empowerment.

2. Active listening

Provide survivors with a non-judgmental and empathetic listening ear. Encourage them to share their experiences, concerns, and emotions at their own pace. Validate their feelings and let them know they are heard and believed.

3. Respect boundaries

Respect survivors’ boundaries and personal space. Allow them to have control over their own bodies and decisions. Obtain informed consent for any physical contact or assistance required.

4. Empowerment

Foster a sense of empowerment by involving survivors in decision-making processes about their care. Respect their autonomy and choices, allowing them to regain control over their lives.

5. Training

Take a look at Florence Academy for training on an Introduction to trauma informed care and Safeguarding level 1 and 2.

Remember, supporting survivors of sexual violence and abuse requires a compassionate and empathetic approach. By creating a safe and supportive environment, we can help survivors on their journey towards healing and recovery.

As superheroes in safeguarding, your role is to protect and empower those in care, because everybody has the right to be safe. By being vigilant and responsive to the signs of abuse and neglect, you play a crucial part in creating a safe and nurturing environment for all individuals in your care.

Facing reality: lessons from Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris

While we celebrate the role of superheroes in safeguarding, it’s essential to acknowledge the stark reality that some individuals who masquerade as heroes are, in fact, perpetrators of abuse. Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris, once celebrated figures, were later exposed for their heinous acts of abuse, shaking the foundations of trust in institutions and highlighting the need for vigilant safeguarding practices.

Documentaries such as “The Other Side of Jimmy Savile” and “Rolf Harris: Hiding in plain sight” shed light on the shocking revelations surrounding these individuals, serving as stark reminders of the importance of safeguarding measures in protecting the vulnerable.

The Power of speaking up

Communication is your superpower phone booth! Encourage staff to be like superheroes with walkie-talkies, sharing information and concerns. It’s all about creating a culture where everyone feels comfortable speaking up if they notice anything that could affect the well-being of people in care.

If you notice one or a combination of the signs of abuse/neglect or have any concerns, it is essential to take them seriously and report them to the manager or designated safeguarding lead. At Florence we have designated safeguarding lead and safeguarding champions at each branch; to contact a safeguarding lead, email

Empowering people to be their heroic selves

February was also LGBTQ+ History Month. How can we support service users to express their true selves? We offer an academy module on Supporting Identity and Wellbeing in Care Homes that delves into topics such as sexuality and spirituality. The module explores ways to create an inclusive and supportive environment for individuals in care, ensuring that their voices are heard.

Supporting people to be themselves is an essential part of safeguarding. By creating an inclusive and supportive environment that respects individuals’ identities, we contribute to their overall well-being and safety. This involves promoting understanding, providing training on LGBTQ+ issues, and ensuring that the voices of LGBTQ+ individuals in care are heard and valued.

Keep rocking the superhero cape!

So, care professional extraordinaire, keep rocking the cape on this fantastic journey of safeguarding. With your superhero powers and the collective efforts of your safeguarding team mates, you’re creating a kingdom where people can thrive, laugh, and enjoy the most epic adventure of their lives. Keep up the great work, and may your workplace always be a haven of happiness and safety!

If you are worried or have any safeguarding concerns, you can speak to the governance team at Florence by emailing

You might also be interested in:

Why words matter when you’re providing care

Why medication errors occur and how to avoid them

Start learning with Florence Academy: a beginners’ guide

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