This policy is intended to set out the values, principles and policies underpinning this home’s approach to whistleblowing.
The document outlines the home’s policy on addressing allegations of abuse of residents made by members of staff against other staff and suspected perpetrators of abuse. This process is known as “whistleblowing”. The policy is created in line with the current legal requirements, which are included in the CQC Guidance about Compliance: Essential Standards of Quality and Safety, Outcome 7: Safeguarding People who use Services from Abuse. It is written in recognition of and compliance with the provisions of the Public Disclosure Act 1998.
In the past, people who have reported colleagues’ actions who they consider have ill treated, neglected or abused residents, have often been regarded as troublemakers and have been penalised for “doing the right thing”. It is now recognised that staff are the people most likely to observe and be in a position to report on bad practice. It is important for any care home therefore to create an atmosphere of open communication and commitment to high standards of work, within which criticisms can be frankly made and thoroughly investigated.
The home’s policy is in line with the Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998, which aims in law to protect staff and to ensure they are not victimised, when reporting and seeking to have investigated genuine and reasonable concerns about any form of malpractice that they encounter in their work.
The home provides staff with the information they need to raise a concern with an outside body.
Obligations on Staff to Report Abuse
The home recognises that its staff have a moral and legal obligations to report abuse and any occasion or incident matter where they consider vulnerable adults are at risk of being injured or harmed by other people.
The home considers that teamwork and loyalty to colleagues should not be allowed to deter staff from reporting suspected abuse, criminal acts, neglect of residetns or bad practice that is against the GSCC Code of Conduct for Social Care Workers, when they observe it.
Any member of staff who witnesses or suspects abuse by another member of staff should report the matter to their supervisor or manager. The manager will accept responsibility for the actions that follow and will assure the “whistleblower” that they have acted correctly by reporting the matter and will not be victimised.
Despite the assurances the home gives to its staff, it accepts that there may be incidents that the staff member does not feel confident or able to report in the first instance to the manager. The home then accepts the right and obligation of the staff member to report their concerns to an outside authority such as the police, the local authority adults safeguarding unit or the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to initiate an investigation. The home will not penalise or victimise any staff member who responsibly reports their concerns in these ways.
Commitment to Staff
The home assures its staff that their concerns about any possible mistreatment of its residents will be listened to and investigated.
Staff are encouraged to raise any concern directly or in writing. They are also entitled to make their representations accompanied by a friend or colleague or trade union representative as they decide and think fit. They might also wish to obtain witness statements.
The home undertakes to assess and investigate any concerns impartially and objectively, so that it can be fair to all parties concerned in seeking to clarify the facts before taking further actions.
The home’s management will keep any staff members affected by an investigation of the actions being taken and the outcomes, taking into account the need to respect the possible confidentiality of some of the information relating to other staff members and residents, which has developed in the process of the investigation.
All information will be treated with the utmost confidence. This might not be possible in all cases, eg if the abuse requires reporting to the police and/or the local adults safeguarding authority. Staff should also be aware that all instances of alleged or actual abuse must be notified to the local adults safeguarding authority and to the CQC to comply with Regulation 18 of the Health and Social Care Act 2008 (Regulated Activities) Regulations 2010.
Investigating and dealing with allegations
The manager to whom abuse by a staff member is reported should take the necessary steps under the home’s policy on abuse. In addition, they should if possible protect the source of the information. If a manager fails to act promptly, suppresses evidence or is involved in any action to discourage whistleblowing, they may render themselves liable to disciplinary action.
Dealing with interference with or victimisation of staff who have reported abuse
Any member of staff who attempts to prevent a staff member from reporting their concerns to a manager or who bullies, attempts to intimidate or discriminates against a colleague in these circumstances will be dealt with under disciplinary proceedings. A whistleblower who feels themselves to be subject to hostile action from colleagues should inform their manager, who should if necessary take steps to alter the staff member’s duties so as to protect them from the hostile action.
The home’s managers take reports from whistleblowers seriously and investigate all allegations thoroughly. Any allegations against colleagues, however, which are found to be unwarranted or malicious may render the person who made them liable to disciplinary action.
All new staff receive training in this policy on whistleblowing as part of the induction training in line with Common Induction Standards. All staff receive updated training as needed as policies change