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Many official bodies are responsible for safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults, including local authority adult and children’s social services teams and the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Under the Health and Social Care Act 2008, the CQC’s main purpose is to protect and promote the health, safety and welfare of people who use health and social care services. Making sure that providers (private and public) fulfil their responsibilities to keep children and adults safe is fundamental to the CQC meeting that objective.
Child protection is part of safeguarding, aimed at specific children identified as suffering, or are likely to suffer, significant harm. Guidance for professionals involved in safeguarding published in 2015 states that effective safeguarding of children can only be achieved by putting the child at the centre of the system and by every individual and agency working together to achieve that aim. That remains the objective, although tragic cases of child abuse where that ambition has clearly failed still make the headlines.
Safeguarding adults also means attempting to ensure individuals live in safety, free from abuse, but the views, wishes, feelings and beliefs of any adult must also be taken into account. Safeguarding arrangements always attempt to promote any vulnerable adult’s wellbeing, but it is also necessary to balance safety with that person’s freedom of choice.
The Mental Capacity Act allows restraint and restrictions to be used only if they are in a person's best interests. Extra safeguards are needed if those restrictions and restraint used will deprive a person of their liberty - the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards.
The Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards can only be used if the person will be deprived of their liberty in a care home or hospital. In other settings the Court of Protection can authorise a deprivation of liberty. One key safeguard is that the person has someone appointed with legal powers to represent them as well as a right to challenge authorisations in the Court of Protection, and access to Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCAs).