Focus on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults
We are committed to playing our part in improving quality in pharmacy.
And hope that, through a series of articles focusing on relevant topics, we can prompt discussion and share examples of what we are seeing through our inspections of registered pharmacies. This month, we are focusing on the important topic of safeguarding. Safeguarding children (known as ‘child protection’ in Scotland) and vulnerable adults is a key theme in both our professional and registered pharmacies standards.
Pharmacy professionals and the pharmacy team working in registered pharmacies are well placed to identify people who may be vulnerable, including children. It is important that all pharmacy professionals and the wider pharmacy team are aware of, and understand, possible signs of abuse, neglect or exploitation and how to manage these. This includes knowing what the local procedures for referral are, and which people and organisations to work with. It is important that pharmacy professionals and the wider team, in relation to registered pharmacies, have the confidence to act where necessary.
The case studies below are examples we have seen through our inspection of registered pharmacies.
- An elderly patient arrived at a pharmacy having taken all their medication. The pharmacy team assessed the patient’s safety and discussed their concerns with the patient’s GP. The GP requested a repackaging system for the patient’s medicines to help them follow their medication plan. A member of the pharmacy team followed up with a visit to the patient to collect any unused medication and found out that the patient was struggling to take care of their home and themselves. In discussion with the patient, the pharmacy team reported their concerns to the local safeguarding team. They then documented their concerns and actions on the patient’s electronic record.
- Pharmacy staff became aware that a child had taken several of their older sister’s contraceptive pills. The child’s mother told the pharmacist that she had taken her child to hospital. The pharmacist remained concerned and contacted social services to make sure that this was followed up. The mother had not sought further medical attention for her child.
- A regular patient in his nineties was unsure whether he had a prescription to collect, and expressed confusion about his medicines to a healthcare assistant in a pharmacy. The healthcare assistant, together with a pharmacy technician, discussed with the patient how they could help. They found that the patient was struggling with multiple collection dates for his different medicines. The staff offered to align his medicines, so they would start and run out at the same time, and explained that these could be delivered to him at home. The patient agreed to the staff aligning his medicines, but decided he did not want a home delivery because he wanted to maintain his independence.
- A pharmacist worked with the local community to raise awareness of the services available at the pharmacy. As well as attending a youth forum meeting to share information about emergency hormonal contraception (EHC), he arranged for the pharmacy to work closely with local schools. Young women who needed EHC were encouraged to attend the pharmacy with the support of a nurse or a youth worker, and many did. The pharmacist had also built relationships with the local police, so they were able to refer women to the pharmacy’s EHC service, and the pharmacist was able to signpost patients to the police and to other agencies, where necessary. The pharmacy also offered chaperones to help patients access other services.
Find out more
Here are some of the resources available to help you and your team find out more about safeguarding. Different legislation and arrangements are in place in England, Scotland (where safeguarding of children is known as ‘child protection’) and Wales.
- The UK Government’s website hosts guidance and resources on safeguarding children
- The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has produced professional practice quick reference guides on protecting children and young people and vulnerable adults, available to its members
- The National Pharmacy Association also produced new safeguarding resources in October 2015, available to its members
- We produced a GPhC factsheet about Female genital mutilation and the mandatory duty for pharmacy professionals to report this
- NHS England has a safeguarding steering group and provides information on different aspects of safeguarding on its website
- The Department of Health’s Care and support statutory guidance provides guidance on sections 42–46 of the Care Act 2014
- Age UK have also produced a useful factsheet on safeguarding older people from abuse and neglect
- CPPE launched an e-learning programme in March 2015, Working together to safeguard children - A guide to inter-agency working to safeguard and promote the welfare of children
- The Scottish Government have produced Child protection guidance for Health Professionals (Scotland) and National Guidance for Child Protection in Scotland
- Act Against Harm is a Scottish Government-sponsored website that gives guidance on what to do if a vulnerable adult is at risk
- NHS Education for Scotland have produced an online module on Child Protection
- The Welsh Government has information about safeguarding on their website, aimed at health and social care professionals
- NHS Wales has information on the safeguarding children service, including pharmacy-specific guidance
- Wales Centre for Pharmacy Professional Education (WCPPE) have interactive learning modules on safeguarding children