During the current coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, we would like to reassure you that we are working hard to maintain business continuity and remain committed to safeguarding adults, children and young people in Warrington. 

We have adapted our day to day work to include ‘virtual’ meetings and the next few months will present new challenges for our key partnership agencies.   We would ask all agencies to continue to remain vigilant in recognising and responding to potential additional safeguarding demands, especially those arising from the pandemic.

The Warrington safeguarding adults partnership team will continue to prioritise work on safeguarding adult reviews (SAR’s).

If you would like any additional information or have any questions please email Warrington safeguarding partnership team.

General advice during COVID-19

During the current outbreak we want to help keep adults at risk safe from abuse, and up to date by sharing information and highlighting scams which are using the current situation as part of their approach.

The single most important action we can all take, in fighting coronavirus, is to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives.

You should only leave the house for one of four reasons, and one of these is to provide care or to help a vulnerable person. Even when you are doing this, you need to do so safely. You should be minimising time spent outside of the home and ensuring you are two metres (six feet) apart from anyone outside of your household.

Read the government guidance on how to help and importantly, how to do this safely

The latest guidance and video on hand washing can be found on gov.uk

You can find the latest COVID-19 guidance in 20 languages on the doctors of the world website

Coping with Bereavement 

A new bereavement helpline has been launched that is specific for people who are bereaved by covid-19 or have got a loved one who is poorly in hospital with covid-19. It is a helpline for all individuals who need to speak to someone in these very uncertain and emotional times.

National Bereavement Partnership

Coping with anxiety

Here are some useful top tips to help you cope with anxiety and improve your emotional wellbeing during this difficult time.

Top tips for dealing with anxiety

Top tips for positive wellbeing

Self-isolating

Guidance for Gypsy, Traveller and Boater communities on self-isolation

Guidance on social distancing and for vulnerable people during COVID-19

Guidance on shielding and protecting people defined on medical grounds as extremely vulnerable from COVID-19

Volunteering

The message of safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults to volunteers is a simple one:

  • If you see something say something
  • That as a volunteer you have a safeguarding role
  • That some people may volunteer for the wrong reason
  • To stay safe

Read the government Safeguarding Factsheet: Community volunteers during COVID-19 outbreak

DBS guidance

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) have produced a FAQ document designed to address specific Safeguarding questions that people may have at this time who are involved with community groups and volunteering in their community.  It is split into two sections:

1. Advice for those organising a community volunteer group, and

2. Advice for individuals wanting to assist those in their local community

Any questions in relation to this information can be emailed to the DBS or you can call their helpline on 03000 200 190

Keeping safe

Advice for vulnerable adults

When managing your own care needs or letting new people into your life, it is important to consider possible risks, no matter how small, and to have a plan on how to manage those risks. This information will help you to think about the sorts of issues involved in managing risk, as well as offering advice on how to keep safe.

There are four main ways you can reduce the risk of being harmed:

  • Be aware of local services, support and information
  • Protect yourself
  • Speak up
  • Know your rights

You have a right:

  • to be safe from abuse
  • be treated fairly and with respect
  • to say what care you do or do not want
  • to be given information about your care
  • to be involved in making decisions about your care and your life

How to protect yourself

  • Never give your bank details or pin number to anyone
  • Never sign anything you are not sure about or you don’t understand what it is about
  • Do not give away your possessions if you still need them
  • Keep any money or valuables you have at home locked away
  • Never send or give money to someone you don’t know
  • Do not isolate yourself, join local groups or activities or seek out support groups
  • Make sure there is someone you trust who knows your wishes and who you can talk to if you need to
  • Check the ID badge of people who come to your home. If you are worried do not let people inside your home
  • If possible you should have a safety chain on your front and back doors
  • If you have a Keysafe, remember you can change the number if needed
  • If you are suffering from abuse keep notes about what is happening
  • Make sure you do not rely on one person only to support or care for you.
  • Gather a few people around you to help watch over your safety
  • Try to make sure people understand what your needs are
  • If you receive care in your own home or you live in a care home and you are worried about any aspect of your care or treatment, please do not stay silent. Make a complaint or speak to someone you trust. If no one visits you, you could talk to a professional or voluntary visitor, for example the chiropodist or hairdresser
  • If you feel uncomfortable with the way someone gives you personal care or the way someone touches you tell someone you trust (this can be your doctor, friend or social worker)
  • Remember you have a right to say no to unwanted and unasked for touches

Reporting abuse

If you’re worried that a vulnerable adult is being abused, exploited or neglected – or is at risk of this happening – you have a responsibility to report it. It might be something someone has told you, something you heard or saw, or just something that makes you feel uncomfortable about how someone is being treated or looked after.

  • Contact our adult social care first response team on 01925 443322 or, outside of office hours, ring us on 01925 444400
  • If you think a crime has been committed, ring the police on 101
  • If you believe the adult is at immediate risk of harm, call 999

Self neglect

Self-neglect can take many forms and can lead to social isolation. Take note of things such as the washing up not being done, wearing the same clothes or soiled clothing. If this is addressed at an early stage it will help with self-esteem and mental wellbeing.

Watch a video about working with people who may be experiencing self-neglect

Responding to self-neglect can be one of the most complex areas of practice for today’s professionals and volunteers, partly because self-neglect and hoarding often present within the context of personal choice. This creates a tension between a fundamental aim of safeguarding, that of reducing risk and implementing Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP). Individuals experiencing self-neglect can often put themselves and others at risk through their actions e.g. by creating a fire hazard.

Self-neglect means potentially putting oneself at risk of serious harm by not taking adequate care of one’s own health and environment, and not taking adequate steps to meet one’s own care needs.

Self-neglect as a form of abuse covers a wide range of behaviours such as neglecting one’s personal hygiene, health and surroundings including harmful hoarding behaviour. It can include: persistent inattention to personal hygiene or environment; repeated refusal of services which can reasonably be expected to improve quality of life; self-endangerment as a result of unsafe behaviours.

Hoarding behaviour is the excessive collection and retention of any material to the point that it impedes day to day functioning (Frost & Gross, 1993).

Hoarding disorder is distinct from the act of collecting, and is also different from people whose property is generally cluttered or messy. It is not simply a lifestyle choice. The main difference between a hoarder and a collector is that hoarders have strong emotional attachments to their objects which are well in excess of their real value.

Indicators of self-neglect to be alert for:

  • Neglecting health and personal hygiene leading to pressure ulcers or skin damage
  • Neglecting home environment, leading to hazards in the home or infestations
  • Poor diet and nutrition leading to significant weight loss or other health issues
  • Lack of engagement with services/ agencies
  • Hoarding items – excessive attachment to possessions

Scams

COVID-19 scams – information from trading standards

Things such as Facebook community groups, WhatsApp groups and the Nextdoor social network that send neighbourhood alerts can be great ways of staying in touch with those around you, however it can be difficult to know who to trust. These are all online and not everyone has access to the internet, so please see the telephone numbers below for your County if you require assistance.

Please be aware that not everyone out there is trustworthy and some people will take advantage of this unusual situation our society is facing.

Here are just some of the scams we are aware of, but please note that criminals come in all shapes and sizes and can contact you at the door, by phone, post or online:

  • Be aware of people offering miracle cures or vaccines for COVID-19 – there is no specific treatment for COVID-19. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover.
  • Home cleaning services
  • People impersonating healthcare workers, claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for coronavirus – this is a scam and these kits are not currently available to buy.
  • Emails saying that you can get a refund on taxes, utilities or similar are usually bogus and they are just after your personal and bank details.
  • There are lots of fake products available to buy online that say they can protect you or cure coronavirus. These will not help and are designed to take your money.
  • There are new mobile phone applications that claim to give you updates on the virus but instead, they lock your phone and demand a ransom.
  • Your bank or the police will never ask for your bank details over the phone.
  • People offering to do your shopping or collecting medication and asking for money upfront and then disappearing.

Tips to avoid being scammed:

  • Be cautious and listen to your instincts. Don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door.
  • Take your time; don’t be rushed.
  • If someone claims to represent a charity, ask them for ID. Be suspicious of requests for money up front. If someone attempts you into accepting a service they are unlikely to be genuine. Check with family and friends before accepting offers of helps if you are unsure.
  • If you are online, be aware of fake news and use trusted sources such as gov.uk or NHS.uk websites. Make sure you type the addresses in and don’t click on links in emails.
  • Only purchase goods from legitimate retailers and take a moment to think before parting with money or personal information.
  • Know who you’re dealing with - if you need help, talk to someone you know or get in touch with your local Council on the numbers below.
  • Protect your financial information, especially from people you don’t know. Never give your bank card or PIN to a stranger.

Contact information

If you think you’ve been scammed, report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 and if you need advice, call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.

If you are in immediate danger, contact the police on 999.

Contact your bank if you think you have been scammed.

To learn more about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others, the Friends Against Scams website has lots of information and free online training.

Why not become a Scam Marshal? A Scam Marshal is any resident in the UK who has been targeted by a scam and now wants to fight back and take a stand against scams. Scam Marshals do this by sharing their own experiences, helping others to report and recognise scams and sending any scam mail that they receive to the National Trading Standards Scams Team so that it can be used as evidence in future investigative and enforcement work. Visit the Scam Marshals section of the Friends Against Scams website for more information and to sign up.

Downloads

You can download these documents for more help and advice.

Coronavirus social media pack (PDF, 525KB)

Coronavirus Scam postcard (PDF, 194KB)

Coronavirus scams awareness letter (Word, 83KB)

Coronavirus social media pack (Word, 1MB)

Domestic abuse and coercive/controlling behaviour

Home isn’t always a safe place for children or adults and the current restrictions can make home even less safe. There have been reports in the National and International Press of an increase in domestic abuse during the COVID-19 restrictions.

At this time, Warrington has not seen a significant increase in referrals. However, we cannot be complacent, especially at this time when abuse is even more hidden and it is important that we all help people at risk of abuse within their own homes. Domestic abuse impacts on adult victims and children.

We need your help - friends, neighbours, key workers, if you are worried about someone you know or someone you have come across in your role as a key worker don’t allow the abuse to go unnoticed/unreported. 

What are the signs of domestic abuse?

They’re not always as obvious as you might think. That’s because domestic abuse is about controlling someone’s mind and emotions as much as hurting their body. Being abused can leave victims scared and confused. It can be hard for individuals to see their partner’s actions for what they really are.  We can all help by keeping an eye out for the signs.

Signs someone is being abused

It is very difficult to create a definitive list of signs that domestic abuse is happening because abuse can occur on many levels and both victims and alleged or known perpetrators can behave and respond in a range of different ways. The following list of signs of behaviour for victims is not exhaustive, and should not be used as a definitive list but should be used as guidance.

Keep an eye out for things like:

  • May have unexplained bruises/injuries, and may give other reasons for the injuries which refer to them being accidental
  • Anxious about using video conferencing - may only use telephone/text
  • Personality changes, like low self-esteem in someone who was always confident/becoming unusually quiet or withdrawn
  • Constantly checking in with their partner/overly worried about pleasing their partner
  • Never having money on hand
  • Skipping out on social interaction for no clear reason
  • Wearing clothes that don’t fit the season, like long sleeves in summer to cover bruises
  • Has panic attacks
  • Has frequent absences from work or other commitments
  • Stops talking about her/his partner
  • May never be seen alone, and is always accompanied by their partner
  • May become more isolated, withdrawing from friends and family
  • Go along with everything their partner says and does
  • Check in often with their partner to report where they are and what they’re doing

Additional information and support:

Cheshire is 'opening the door' on unhealthy relationships

  • Are you, or someone you know, in a relationship that doesn’t feel quite right?
  • Is one person in the relationship controlling, manipulative, abusive, or violent?
  • If so, this is an unhealthy relationship and is defined as domestic abuse.

What happens behind closed doors doesn’t have to stay there.

The Open The Door website has been designed to help you if you, or someone you know, is in relationship that doesn’t feel quite right. Cheshire is opening the door on unhealthy relationships to bring domestic abuse out into the open.

Other resources

Information and support about domestic abuse on the BBC website

Read about domestic abuse and COVID-19 on the Safe Lives website

Visit the Refuge domestic abuse website

Are you or someone you know at risk?

If you know someone at risk or you are at risk yourself you do not need to stay where you are not safe. 

Adult social care first response team and children's safeguarding/social work team - 01925 443322. Out of office hours 01925 444400.

Report the abuse of a vulnerable adult

Report abuse of children and young people (MARS)

Visit our domestic abuse support page

If you think a crime has been committed, ring the police on 101. If you think someone is at immediate risk ring the police on 999.

Modern day slavery

Sexual exploitation, criminal exploitation and forced labour will not stop during COVID-19 outbreak. Also, people will not stop trying to escape their exploiters.

Supporting victims of modern slavery who are homeless

As any client, the potential victim will be triaged and if displaying symptoms, they will have to follow your charity contingency plan. Only when a client has been cleared can they be assessed on modern slavery indicators.

All cases should be supported on a case-by-case basis. Emergency bedding until the client moves to a safe house is still a priority.

The steps to follow are:

  1. Provide primary services as necessary (referral to nurse and to mental health worker are advised).
  2. Arrange emergency accommodation asap. This is done in collaboration with local authorities using their emergency bedding protocol or their mental health respite beds.
  3. Send a safeguarding referral to your local authority Adult Social Care.
  4. Organise multi-agency case conferences (these can be video conferences). Please contact me if you need further information.
  5. Get a First Responder to your charity or report it to the Modern Slavery Helpline online or call 0800 0121 700
  6. Refer the client to the Salvation Army for transfer to a safe house by calling 0300 3038151.

NOTE: referrals to respite beds and emergency bedding will ‘depend on the demand and how the whole situation develops. As those are shared accommodations, potential outbreaks of COVID-19 and its containment in such provisions is a concern’ (Central and Northwest NHS Trust).

NOTE: some hostels cannot provide food. The clients in these types of bedding will need to take food packages with them.

NOTE: The Salvation Army ‘phone assessments are asking more questions to highlight if a victim may be at risk from / have the virus and following government advice where a concern has been highlighted’ (Salvation Army Modern Slavery Unit Manager).
For more information read the Passage modern slavery handbook on supporting victims of modern slavery who are homeless, including the list of First Responders and important phone numbers

Information for carers

You can find more information by visiting Carers UK coronavirus guidance

Read the Joint Statement by Carers UK and Carers Trust (pdf 264KB)

Supporting the homeless

Local Government Association homelessness hostel advice (pdf 115KB)

Training resources

Health Education England have made available training resources on COVID-19 that will be useful to staff and volunteers. 

View the free online training about different types of scams and how to protect yourself and others on the Friends Against Scams website