If you suspect that an individual is being abused, it is imperative that you tell them of the reasons for your concerns and attempt to build a dialogue with them to try and establish what has happened. You should remain calm and listen intently to anything they may tell you without ‘putting words into their mouth’ and without pressing for information that they unwilling to give. If they ask you not to tell anyone, explain that you have a duty of care to report anything that is illegal or affects their well-being. Also explain that they have done the right thing by telling you and that you will take appropriate steps to resolve the problem and protect them from further abuse.
After speaking with the individual, you should preserve any evidence of abuse that is available and, at the earliest opportunity, make a written record of the conversation keeping only to the facts and the words that the individual used. It should then be reported to your manager, or, if your manager is implicated in the abuse, to the next manager up in the organisations hierarchy.
Depending on the circumstances, you may also need to report suspected abuse to the police, local social services and/or CQC (if your organisation does not respond appropriately), however confidentiality is paramount and you should work on a ‘need to know’ basis.
The same process should be used if an individual alleges to you that abuse has taken place. All allegations should be taken seriously.
As mentioned above, in some cases there will be physical evidence of abuse having taken place. It is very important to preserve this evidence. You can do this by sealing off the area where the abuse has taken place and leaving everything untouched, not washing soiled or bloodied clothing and discouraging the individual from washing (particularly if it is a case of sexual abuse). As well as recording the victim’s account of the abuse, you should also record any injuries they may have sustained.