Thousands of safeguarding concerns flagged up in Swindon during Covid-19 pandemic

21st September, 2021 4:21 pm

THOUSANDS of safeguarding concerns were flagged about vulnerable adults in Swindon during the first year of the pandemic.

Councils across the country noticed a rise in the amount of reported abuse or neglect between April 2020 and March 2021.

NHS Digital figures show 2,085 concerns about adults with care and support needs were reported to the council in Swindon in that period, up from the 1,945 recorded the year before – a 7 per cent difference.

Nationally, nearly 500,000 safeguarding concerns were flagged that year, up 5 per cent from 2019-20, with the very elderly – those aged over 85 – most likely to be the subject.

Caroline Abrahams from Age UK said the abuse of older people was a serious concern, adding: “Hundreds of thousands of older people are being affected a year and we expect the pandemic to have made things worse.

“That’s because of the heightened stress across our society and because abuse and neglect tend to thrive behind closed doors, of which there have been more than usual these last 18 months.”

If councils believe a vulnerable adult is experiencing or is at risk of abuse or neglect, they must carry out a Section 42 enquiry to determine whether action should be taken.

Around 535 such enquiries were launched in Swindon during the year to March – more than the 500 that commenced in 2019-20.

Roughly 325 such investigations concluded in 2020-21, with the council finding that the highest proportion of allegations in the area were linked to neglect and acts of omission.

The highest number of incidents took place in a person’s own home with the source of risk in Swindon most often someone the person knew.

Across England, where most incidents were likely to happen at home or in residential care, allegations of neglect, physical, psychological or financial abuse were at the centre of most investigations.

In Swindon, there were 90 enquiries involving neglect or acts of omission, 80 concerning physical abuse, 60 about psychological abuse and 85 investigations into financial abuse.

According to the figures – which are rounded to the nearest five – there were more than 9,000 cases linked to sexual abuse or exploitation investigated nationally.

Care Quality Commission chief inspector Kate Terroni described the latest figures as concerning but said providers had gone above and beyond to provide high quality care during the pandemic.

She added: “Where concerns are brought to our attention, we will not hesitate to act.

“Where we find people are at risk we will not hesitate to take further regulatory action to ensure people’s safety and human rights are upheld.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said the government was supporting councils to carry out safeguarding duties effectively and had provided billions in non ring-fenced funding to allow local authorities to continue delivering services throughout the pandemic.

Source: This is Wiltshire

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