During Safeguarding Adults Week, we have taken a snapshot in a day of the life of our Designated Safeguarding Lead at New Pathways, Barbara Nurse.
A Day in my Life as New Pathways’ Safeguarding Lead
by Barbara Nurse
There is no typical day in the role of Safeguarding Lead, as no two days are ever the same. The role involves responding to all safeguarding concerns raised by our staff, volunteers and sessional workers; between the eight offices we have across the whole of Wales. New Pathways recently increased its capacity with extra staff to provide support for anyone who has experienced rape or sexual abuse, and with this increased support we are able to reach out to even more vulnerable people. This in turn has led to an increase in the number of safeguarding concerns being raised on a daily basis.
Many people are waiting for community services, during a pandemic, to meet their mental health needs. This has led to New Pathways seeing a considerable rise in clients suffering with their mental health; with some considering suicide as their only way out of their emotional turmoil. With the current effects of the pandemic on people’s emotional wellbeing, on top of existing struggles with experiences of trauma, we are seeing up to five or six safeguarding issues raised daily. This equates to over 25 cases a week, and over a hundred safeguarding issues a month during the current pandemic.
A Day in my Life
How my day begins
I work five days a week in my roles (I am also a Children’s Counsellor) at New Pathways, so my body is used to waking at dawn with a cup of tea and a catch up with the daily news on the TV. This is followed, several mornings a week, with a catch up with the rest of the team at New Pathways. These morning meetings now take place through Teams, since COVID-19 decided to pay the world a visit, but having the opportunity to see familiar faces helps to bring some normality to these strange times!
Then I get my head down to tackle the busy workload…
My first tasks of the day
Many clients have had their normal coping strategies reduced due to COVID restrictions; for example, restrictions that are in place that hinder people seeing family members, or those that are stopping people engaging in pleasurable activities. My first case, Rosie (names have been changed to maintain confidentiality) had shared her despair with a worker at New Pathways and shared her plan to end her life. As Safeguarding Lead, I made a call to Rosie and she revealed that she had the means at home to end her life. Rosie shared that she felt there was no point in life anymore. After talking with her, she agreed that I could share this with a family member, who she felt safe enough to talk about it with, and it was agreed that this person would safely dispose of the means she had chosen. Rosie further agreed to the agency liaising with her GP, with a view to her GP instigating a referral into a local crisis team. This would enable Rosie to gain further professional support during this challenging time for her.
My second case of the day was a client who had reported concerns about her elderly mother who lives with her sibling. She reported her mother as being financially controlled by her sibling and that her mother had been isolated off from other family members. The mum had dementia, and the sibling was her main carer. Contact was made with the ‘Adults at Risk’ unit and a referral form was completed to enable the statutory body to investigate the claim of the abuse.
I am aware of the need to take care of myself, so on the days I am working remotely I try to pencil in breaks – if only to catch a cup of tea and recharge the soul! Stopping for lunch is another essential, and on this day I managed to get my lunch break on time. Lunch plans often don’t go according to plan, however, as a safeguarding role is unpredictable and these cases can occur at any point in the working day.
After lunch, I spoke to a client who had reported intimidation by her ex husband who was still visiting the family home. The ex-husband had a history of Domestic Violence and the client further revealed receiving daily death threats from him. A DASH (Domestic Abuse Stalking and Honour-based Crime) form was completed with the client and the score indicated that the client was in the high-risk category. A request for a MARAC (Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference) was made to ensure that key services could be made aware of the client’s situation and offer support for her and her family.
Later, an outside agency called me for advice on a safeguarding issue: a vulnerable adult with learning difficulties had shared that she had been made to take part in a photo shoot by a friend, and it had culminated in her removing her clothes. The worker also said that this had gone ahead without the consent of the vulnerable adult. I advised the worker to report the matter to the police after ensuring she was following her own agency’s policies and procedures and informing her own managers.
My final case of the day involved a client who reported that her abuser was in a position of trust in a learning environment. The client, now an adult, wanted to remain anonymous but wanted to report that this person had access to other children. I explained to her that she could submit an anonymous intelligence form for the police to be alerted to this potential public interest case, and the client was happy to do this.
When I close off my working day, I always find a way to switch off from the heaviness of the day. I feel this is really important, having done previous research around burnout in my younger days. I am very aware of the need to take care of myself, so I mostly spend my evenings watching the soaps, eating too much, and then very little else during these dark winter nights. Then it’s off to bed for a good night’s sleep to recharge myself for whatever the next day will bring! During lighter evenings, I take a walk down to the local beach, which gives me an opportunity for grounding, and reminds me of the beauty of the world around us. However, as the night was drawing in, my walk this week could wait until the weekend.
The above is just a snapshot of how our agency plays a part in the role of safeguarding others. There is no typical day, there are no ‘same’ scenarios. The role is demanding, challenging, and often involves thinking on your feet. But it is also hugely rewarding to know that I play a part in helping others get the help they deserve when they are at their most vulnerable.
If you have been affected by sexual violence and you need support, or you would like to find out more information about our services, please contact us by phone (01685 379310), email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact us via our website or social media.