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12th April 2013

Abuse of a carer

Mike Dempsey responded to a recent question on our Facebook page. Read the answer below:

This is a very important subject which is not often spoken about, and on which there is much less scholarly debate than there is on abuse of those who are cared for. Thank you for asking a very interesting question.

Not knowing the circumstances of the abuse, a reply cannot be specific. However, in general:

A carer has the same personal recourse as any other person who suffers physical or financial abuse or harassment, each of which is potentially a criminal action. They have the right to report the matter to the Police, who will investigate and if it is the public interest, take action. They also have the right to expect that the organisation within which they operate as a carer has taken the appropriate action to safeguard them. See below for more details.

However, a carer, being (in most circumstances) a member of a care organisation, team or environment, has responsibilities as well as rights. These responsibilities lie mainly in the area of notification and the following of procedures. For instance, it is likely that the local policy and procedure will be to record the incident, and to inform line management of the incident. Depending on the circumstances and the severity of the abuse, the carer may decide to pass off their right of legal complaint to management, for them to investigate and make the decision about what to do next. There may also be local policy and procedure covering the risk of abuse, and how to recognise risks arising, mitigate them, and manage them in general. It is the responsibility of the carer, if they have been made aware of those policies, to operate in accordance with them. If the carer has received training or instruction on the avoidance and management of abuse, they have a responsibility to operate in accordance with that instruction.

The organisation within which the carer was operating at the time of abuse also has responsibilities.

Did they have policy and procedure covering the possibility of carer abuse?

If so, had the carer been made aware of it?

Had the abuser been correctly assessed to ensure that the carer assigned to them had adequate skills, training and personal approach to recognise and defuse the potential for abuse?

If the potential for abuse had been assessed and recognised, had a plan of care been developed to mitigate the risk?

If so, had the carer been made aware of the plan, and were they operating in accordance with the plan?

Was there a contingency plan in place to respond to an abuser who had not previously recognised as posing a risk?

If so, had the carer been made aware of it, and were they operating in accordance with the contingency plan?

*All information is correct at the time of publishing

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