Mark Greatrex, Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust’s interim chief executive, writes for the Globe.
Next week is National Safeguarding Adults Week – an opportunity to start the important conversation about safeguarding so we can all learn and be able to look out for others.
We all play a part in helping to prevent abuse; knowing how to spot the signs and who to inform.
While we continue to protect one another from the threat of COVID-19, we must also be aware of other dangers that perhaps aren’t as obvious, such as domestic abuse.
Next week the Wirral Community Health and Care NHS Foundation Trust’s (WCHC) Safeguarding Adults Team will be promoting key safeguarding messages to educate and empower colleagues, through a series of webinars covering topics such as domestic abuse, harmful practices and safeguarding adults.
As well as our duty to keep patients and service users safe, our message to staff is to look out for one another too, and to speak up when something isn’t right.
Safeguarding goes beyond our duty as health and care staff – it extends to our colleagues and everyone around us.
Domestic abuse can happen to anyone, regardless of age, background, gender, religion, sexuality or ethnicity.
It is everyone’s duty to be aware of the signs and how to help, as any form of abuse can be closer to home than we think.
In 2019-20, 2,037 women and 749 men were the victim of a domestic abuse crime in Wirral and during the first lockdown the Trust’s Safeguarding Team contributed to safety plans in over 250 cases of domestic abuse across the borough.
As we live through the latest national lockdown, we must remember that for some, staying at home isn’t always safe.
Household isolation can create opportunities for perpetrators to exploit and harm others, but there are ways we can help – knowing what to look out for and speaking up can be the first step to someone’s rescue.
It can be difficult to know what to do if you suspect a relative, friend, neighbour or colleague is experiencing domestic abuse – but by looking out for signs, such as withdrawn behaviour, a change in demeanour, or even physical signs such as bruises or burns – you can start the conversation.
Wirral Domestic Abuse Alliance – a range of partnership organisations which oversee Wirral’s Zero Tolerance to Domestic Abuse Pledge – recognises that whilst starting the conversation can be hard it is important to always say something.
The Alliance is a commitment from local services and organisations, including our Trust, to help end abuse and support recovery.
Remember: if we can talk about it, we can start to make the change we want to see. Find out more on www.itsneverokwirral.org
If you witness, suspect or have concerns that an adult at risk is being abused you must report it.
You can contact the Trust’s Central Advice and Duty Team in confidence on 0151 514 2222 (option 3), Monday to Friday 8:50am to 5:00pm; or at all other times and on public holidays on 0151 677 6557; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are worried that a friend, neighbour or loved one is a victim of domestic abuse you can call the National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247.
If you believe there is an immediate risk of harm to someone, or it is an emergency, you should always call 999.
Find out more about our Safeguarding Adults Team on our website wchc.nhs.uk or search the hashtags #SafeguardingAdultsWeek and #ItsNeverOK on Twitter.