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How to recognise and report unsafe practices

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

NOTE: This page has been quality assured for 2021 as per our Quality Assurance policy.

What are unsafe practices?

Unsafe practices are any actions that could jeopardise the safety or wellbeing of an individual or cause harm to yourself or others.

For example, not following the correct procedure when repositioning an individual could result in injury to yourself or others or compromise an individual’s dignity.

Other examples of unsafe practices include:

  • Forgetting to give an individual their medication
  • Withholding an individual’s money or property
  • Not washing hands or not using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when carrying out personal care on individuals
  • Holding onto an individual’s walking frame as they walk
  • Using the wrong size sling
  • Not maintaining the confidentiality of an individual’s personal information
  • Locking an individual in a room
  • Using or not reporting faulty equipment
  • Lack of supervision
  • Failing to add nutritional fortification to food in line with dietitian instructions.
  • Poor management

Not only do unsafe practices risk the health and wellbeing of the individuals that you support but they also increase the risk of abuse and neglect.

What to do if you identify unsafe practices

Unsafe practices should be challenged immediately and prevented from continuing. Unsafe practices should not be allowed to continue as they risk the safety and wellbeing of all involved. You should not carry out practices that you believe are unsafe and an alternative solution should be swiftly found. If you are not able to do this yourself (for example, if others do not listen to you) then you should report your concerns to your manager or supervisor. You should also make a record of your concerns. Your organisation’s agreed ways of working will explain how you should report unsafe practices in your setting.

What to do if you report concerns but they have been addressed

If your concerns are not taken seriously or you experience barriers, you should escalate it to the next level of management or responsible person(s). If your concerns are still not addressed, you should report it to relevant outside agencies. This may be an individual’s social worker or advocate or (in more serious cases) CQC (Care Quality Commission), HSE (Health and Safety Executive), social services safeguarding team or the police. You employer should have an up-to-date whistleblowing policy which will protect you from potential reprisals from reporting or referring concerns externally.

You have a duty of care to ensure that follow up any concerns you report about unsafe practices, abuse and neglect to ensure that they are addressed properly.

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