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How we deal with concerns about vulnerable people


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Some stories sent to Care Opinion may raise concerns that someone, or some people, are being abused or neglected. Concerns like this are also called safeguarding or protection issues. This site page sets out an overview for providers, staff and authors of how Care Opinion manage postings that have any level of safeguarding concerns.


Care Opinion has a comprehensive Moderation Policy and the safeguarding processes sit within that framework. Care Opinion has contact with authors in relation to the feedback but not in a care giving role. However we acknowledge that the public are sending information to us which might have a safeguarding element and we have a responsibility to manage this safely.

Care Opinion reads all postings that come onto the site very carefully. We are a feedback site so we only see the part of the story the author wants to share. Care Opinion also has few details about each author. Care Opinion asks for an email and postcode, you can read about our Privacy Policy. Nevertheless, we are reading personal details in each case of an individual’s experiences of care and treatment and so we have to be very careful to look at anything which might indicate any safeguarding concerns. Care Opinion is not part of any statutory body or front line service so our primary focus is on ensuring that the right people are alerted to concerns so they can act accordingly. We are also concerned for the potential vulnerability of authors, relatives, carers etc in relation to any action we take. All feedback is read by our team of moderators who will in consultation with senior colleagues take the actions described below, which fall under two 'levels' of concern.

All Care Opinion staff have received safeguarding training as part of their moderation training. This includes consideration of the range of safeguarding categories. Most of the safeguarding concerns that we have are in the areas of Neglect/Self Neglect, Psychological or Organisational Abuse, but staff have been trained to be aware of the full range of categories. A working definition of abuse is as follows:

“abuse consists of anything which individuals, institutions, or processes do, or fail to do, which directly or indirectly harms children, young people or adults or damages their prospects of safe and healthy development”

Level 1

A story is submitted to Care Opinion that has some low level comments that indicate concerns about vulnerability and safety of adults who are receiving services. However there are no clear indications that these are at a serious “safeguarding level”. They would more accurately be classified as a practice concern, a potential complaint or quality care issue based on the posting as it stands.

Actions - Publish and encourage response from provider including offering contact. Also Signpost the story author to raise concerns appropriately. If publishing not possible, then still signpost author.

Level 2

A story is submitted to Care Opinion that has clear evidence of serious neglect, self-neglect, physical abuse, psychological or organisation abuse. This might be to do with the seriousness of an incident or suggested repeated or prolonged incidences. Senior moderators will assess and decide on actions based on the posting content and indications of whether the story author (or patient/service user - they may not be the author) is in touch with services. We would not publish in each instance.

For an example of the categories of abuse see diagram below published with kind permission of Nottinghamshire Healthcare. One of the following actions will be taken depending on the situation:

  1. Author alleges serious safeguarding concerns on behalf of self or others. These concerns are best addressed by the author themselves contacting the right safeguarding teams. This would be particularly relevant where there is an issue of abuse from staff in a particular service that needs to be addressed. Care Opinion will signpost and will seek assurance that the author will take action themselves.
  2. Author is receiving service and indicates clear intent to harm self or others. Safeguarding lead/senior moderator will urgently contact operational manager of service to identify author so that they can assess and intervene directly.
  3. Serious safeguarding concerns. Either not clear whether person is in services or concerns are so great it justifies contacting safeguarding team directly. If possible Care Opinion will contact the safeguarding teams for identified service. Where little information is available, Care Opinion will need to go straight to lead organisation in geographical area.

Categories of abuse