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Safeguarding is relevant to all of nursing practice, in all settings, whether with children or adults.

Effective safeguarding is underpinned by two key principles:

  • safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility; for services to be effective each professional and organisation should play their full part
  • professionals and organisations must work in partnership to protect children and adults in need.

These two key safeguarding principles are underpinned by the RCN’s Principles of Nursing Practice.
These eight principles encourage a proactive and empowering stance that is desirable in the prevention of safeguarding issues.

As a nurse, midwife, health visitor or HCA you are responsible for safeguarding those in your care and you must respond to any safeguarding concerns.

Here are the key stages to follow:

  • Identify safeguarding concerns.
  • Report the concerns – for most nurses, midwives, health visitors and HCAs this will be in conjunction with partner agencies and you should use organisational and local policies.
  • Participate in enquiries, debriefing and (where appropriate) in developing a protection plan.
  • Reflect on the outcomes and learning.

You will need to check the relevant statutory guidance and legislation for the country where you work.

The role of the designated nurse for safeguarding children and young people in England

The Royal College of Nursing has published this position statement which clarifies the role and responsibilities of the Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Children. The need for clarification is essential given the significant loss of expertise nationally and the subsequent challenge to effective succession planning. The role provides safeguarding, child protection expertise and leadership throughout health and multiagency partnerships. The role is distinct and should not be combined with other designated nurse roles or functions, for example vulnerable adults.

See: The Role of the Designated Nurse for Safeguarding Children and Young People in England (2016).

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Adult safeguarding: roles and competencies for health care staff

This intercollegiate document has been designed to guide professionals and the teams they work with to identify the competencies they need in order to support individuals to receive personalised and culturally sensitive safeguarding. Dawne Garrett, the professional lead for safeguarding, has also written a blog to accompany the guidance.
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Safeguarding children and young people: roles and competencies for health care staff

To protect children and young people from harm, and help improve their wellbeing, all health care staff must have the competencies to recognise child maltreatment, opportunities to improve childhood wellbeing, and to take effective action as appropriate to their role. This intercollegiate document provides a clear framework which identifies the competencies required for all health care staff.

Professional lead for effective safeguarding:

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RCN Membership Support Services (MSS). Free, confidential advice, representation and support on a range of issues that affect you at home and at work. 

  • 17 Apr 2024 Cardiff

    Celebrating and promoting school nursing

    *Bookings are now closed for this event* Join RCN Wales for this free in-person event which aims to demonstrate school nursing innovation and best practice, and promote the essential role school nursing plays in supporting children, young people and their families. Suitable for all nursing roles including nursing students, and both members and non-members are welcome to attend.