How to recognise and report unsafe practices

This page is designed to answer the following questions:

Unsafe practices are any actions that could jeopardise the safety or wellbeing of an individual or cause them harm or injury.

For example, not following correct procedure when moving a person or object 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 between carrying personal care on individuals
  • Giving individuals food or drink that they do not like
  • Not maintaining confidentiality of an individual’s personal information
  • Locking an individual in a room
  • Using or not reporting faulty equipment

Unsafe practices should be challenged immediately and prevented from continuing. 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.

Unsafe practices should not be allowed to continue as the risk the safety and wellbeing of all involved. An alternatuve solution should be swiftly found.

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 there is still no movement, 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 or the police. You employer should have an up-to-date whistleblowing policy which will protect you from potential reprisals from report or referring concerns externally.

Example question and answer

How would you recognise and respond to unsafe practices?

There are several unsafe practices that may affect the well-being of an individual. Examples include not documenting incidents or medical concerns, lack of good hand washing technique, not following health & safety guidelines, living in unsanitary conditions, poor diet and not having risk assessments in place but their are many, many more.

I ensure that all policies, procedures and good practices are followed to ensure the well-being of my clients. If I identify an unsafe practice, the first thing I do is make sure that my clients are safe from harm. I would then speak to my manager and offer suggestions about how the practice could be changed to make it safe. If I don’t feel comfortable approaching my manager (for example, if my manager is involved in the unsafe practice) or I do not feel that it has been dealt with correctly, I would address senior management with my concerns. If it is more serious, or still not dealt with to my satisfaction, I would whistle-blow and go straight to the local authority, CQC or the Police.

A good example is when I witnessed a member of staff encouraging a client to hug her and kiss her on the cheek on multiple occasions. Although I was fairly certain there was nothing sinister in her motives and there was no abuse, I felt it was unprofessional and crossed the staff-client boundary. I spoke about my concerns to my manager (with another manager present to act as witness) and was thanked for bringing it to their attention and assured they would speak with the member of staff concerned to stop it happening again. Had this not been dealt with properly by management, I would have been forced to report my concerns to CQC or local social services.