What are the 5 Rs of safeguarding?
The 5 Rs of safeguarding provide an easy-to-remember process for keeping vulnerable people safe. Sometimes, the 5 Rs of safeguarding are referred to as the 4 Rs of safeguarding. They refer to the same concept, so you may see both being discussed in relation to safeguarding.
The 5 Rs of safeguarding are:
Before we delve into what each of these Rs mean in practice, it’s important to understand the basics of safeguarding principles. Exactly what does safeguarding children and vulnerable adults mean?
What does safeguarding children and vulnerable adults mean?
Safeguarding is all about ensuring that children, young people and vulnerable adults are protected from abuse and neglect.
Abuse includes physical abuse, emotional or psychological abuse, and sexual abuse, although there are many other types. Neglect refers to the persistent failure to properly care for someone’s needs. For example, not providing a child with adequate food.
If there are concerns that a vulnerable person may be in danger, appropriate action must be taken to prevent and stop the abuse from happening. The 5 Rs of safeguarding, or the 4 Rs of safeguarding, are designed to help people understand how they can do this in the best possible way.
What is an example of safeguarding?
An example of safeguarding might be staff at school noticing a change in a child’s behaviour and keeping a record of what’s happening, then following up with appropriate action. This could be having a discussion with the parents or caregivers. Another example might be noticing that a vulnerable person is in a potentially unsafe situation and reporting this to the relevant authority.
The 5 Rs of safeguarding: definitions
You must have a clear understanding of the what the different signs and symptoms of potential abuse, harm and neglect can be. Robust safeguarding training can help you to spot these signs and symptoms.
If you do have a safeguarding concern, it is essential that you respond appropriately and do not ignore the situation. Workplaces should have a safeguarding policy in place to help employees understand the actions they should take.
Safeguarding concerns need to be reported without delay. Confidentiality is important, so only share information with those who are a part of the safeguarding process. Ensure that everyone in your workplace knows who these people are. You may, for example, have a Designated Safeguarding Lead (DSL).
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This is the who, what, why, when and where of safeguarding. Take precise, comprehensive notes that detail everything about your safeguarding concern. For example, who it involves, what happened, and include times and dates. You should do this as soon as possible.
It is usually the responsibility of the DSL or management to pass on safeguarding concerns to the appropriate authorities. However, if the safeguarding risk is more urgent and you suspect somebody is under immediate or severe threat, you should contact the relevant local authority or police services.
Why are these principles sometimes called the 4 Rs of safeguarding?
When it comes to safeguarding children, young people and vulnerable adults, there are a lot of principles floating around. There’s the 6 principles of safeguarding, the 5 Rs of safeguarding, and the 4 Rs of safeguarding. Sometimes it can be confusing to understand what it all means.
Luckily, the 5 Rs of safeguarding and the 4 Rs of safeguarding refer to the same principles. The 4 Rs of safeguarding simply shortens the number of them.
Sometimes, for example, organisations combine Report and Refer into a single principle. Other times, organisations do not include the Respond principle because it can be deemed a part of the other principles – if you are recognising abuse, recording evidence and passing on your concern, then you are essentially responding to the incident.
Regardless of whether you call them the 5 Rs of safeguarding or the 4 Rs of safeguarding, the important thing is to remember the essence of these principles. To summarise, that is to:
- Be able to spot signs of abuse, harm and neglect
- Understand what appropriate action should be taken
- Note down all relevant information related to your concern
- Inform the necessary individual or organisation of the safeguarding incident
Now you understand the 5 Rs of safeguarding. What’s next?
While this blog has provided an overview of this key element of safeguarding, thorough training is essential to ensure your entire workforce thoroughly understands their responsibilities.
Our CPD accredited Safeguarding Children and Vulnerable Adults Training Course goes beyond the 5 Rs of safeguarding. You can gain a deeper understanding around what safeguarding is and why it’s important, as well as find out about safeguarding legislation. Crucially, you can learn how exactly to embed a safe culture within your workplace.
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