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Safeguarding Children & Child Protection

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To protect children within our care we are required to follow the child protection and safeguarding protocol.  Our dental teams accept and recognise our responsibilities to develop awareness of the issues which cause children harm.

It should be stressed that our dental teams are not responsible for making a diagnosis of child abuse or neglect, just for sharing concerns appropriately.

We will endeavor to safeguard and protect children and young people by:

  • Adopting child protection guidelines through procedures and a code of conduct for the dental team
  • Making staff and patients aware that we take child protection seriously and respond to concerns about the welfare of children
  • Using a multi-agency approach when sharing information about concerns with agencies who need to know and involving parents and children appropriately
  • Following carefully the procedures for staff recruitment and selection set out in our Recruitment Policy
  • Ensuring that all staff are DBS checked (formerly CRB checked)
  • Providing effective management for staff by ensuring access to supervision, support and training.

We follow good practice guidelines and are committed to reviewing our policies at regular intervals.

Meadows Dental Care safeguarding lead is the Practice Manager Jennifer Hopper

This statement was reviewed and implemented on: 19/06/17

The policy and relevant procedures will be reviewed annually and are due for review

on:  19/06/2018 or prior to this date in accordance with new guidance or legislative changes.

Safeguarding Children and Child Protection Procedures

Meadows Dental Care recognises that the welfare of patients is paramount and takes seriously its responsibility to safeguard and promote the welfare of the children and young people in its care.

Meadows Dental Care has adopted the Safeguarding and Child Protection Policy that affirms this practice’s commitment to protecting children from harm.

Safeguarding children involves:

  • Listening to children
  • Providing information for children
  • Providing a safe and child friendly environment
  • Having other relevant policies and procedures in place

Listening to children

At Meadows Dental Care, we wish to create an environment in which children know their concerns will be listened to and taken seriously. 

We will communicate this by:

  • Asking for their views when discussing treatment options, seeking their consent to dental treatment in addition to parental consent
  • Involving them when we ask for feedback about our practice
  • Listening carefully and taking them seriously if they ever make any disclosure of abuse

Providing information for children

We will support children and their families and provide information about:

  • Local services providing advice and activities
  • Help in times of crisis, i.e.: NSPCC, Child Protection Helpline, Childline etc

Providing a safe and child friendly environment

We will:

  • Take steps to ensure that areas where children are seen are welcoming and secure
  • Consider whether young people wish to be seen alone or accompanied by their parents or guardians
  • Ensure that staff never put themselves in vulnerable situations by seeing young people without a chaperone
  • Ensure that this practice has safe recruitment procedures (see below)

We will ensure we have other relevant policies and procedures in place at the practice that contribute to the practice being effective in safeguarding children. These include safe staff recruitment procedures, complaints procedures and a code of conduct for staff clarifying the conduct necessary for ethical practice to ensure appropriate boundaries in relationships with children and young people.

Practice Lead on Child Protection and Safeguarding

The child protection lead should be someone who:

  • Is a good listener
  • Has respect for confidential information
  • Is able to handle difficult or distressing issues sensitively
  • Thinks before taking action

The role of the child protection lead might include the following duties:

  • Keeping an up-to-date list of local contacts for child protection advice and referral
  • Making information readily available for staff
  • Ensuring the local safeguarding children board procedures are available and are kept up-to-date
  • Organise staff training
  • Auditing the practice
  • Keeping details of local sources of confidential emotional support for staff

Recruitment

When recruiting new staff, we will:

  • Follow the practice recruitment protocol
  • Ensure that the appropriate Disclosure and Barring Services Checks (DBS) checks are conducted (formerly CRB checks)

Training

We take staff training very seriously and will ensure that all staff are trained in safeguarding issues, how to identify the different types of abuse, how to put the policy into practice and what to do if they have any concerns or worries about a child in their care; and how to respond if they have a patient disclosing abuse.  All staff will be aware of the practice ‘whistle blowing’ procedure as detailed in Whistle Blowing policy should they have any concerns about another member of the practice team.

Treating Young Patients

When Meadows Dental Care is treating patients under 16 years old, we will always:

  • Gain treatment consent from a parent or guardian
  • Ensure another member of the practice team, or the child's guardian, is present at all times. We will never be left alone with a child on the practice premises
  • Respect the wishes of a child as you would an adult
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure their health, safety and welfare

Signs of abuse

It is important that all team members who work with children, particularly young children, should be alert for the signs of child abuse. Some of the earliest signs of physical ill treatment of children are to be found in facial bruising and damage to and around the mouth. It is therefore essential that members of the dental team play a responsible part in recording and reporting potential danger to children.

When treating a child who has a physical injury, however minor, our teams are trained to ask themselves the following questions:

  • Could the injury have been caused accidentally? If so, how?
  • If an explanation for an injury is given; does it fit the facts as you find them?
  • If there has been a delay on the part of the parents or guardian in seeking dental care; are there good reasons for this?
  • If the explanation of the cause is consistent with the injury, is the cause itself within normal acceptable limits of behaviour?

Children may also be subjected to other forms of abuse which include sexual abuse, emotional abuse and neglect. There may be no physical signs of abuse, but warning signs will require observation of:

  • The relationship between parent and child
  • The child’s reaction to other people
  • The child’s reaction to any medical or dental examination
  • The general demeanour of the child
  • Any comments made by the child and/or parent that give concern.

Reporting abuse protocol

The following protocol for reporting abuse or suspected abuse should be followed in this practice.

If you have concerns

Discuss your concerns with the practice safeguarding lead. 

If you remain concerned, first seek informal advice from NSPCC confidential helpline number 0808 800 5000 or your local social services without disclosing any information.  This will help you to decide whether you should make a formal referral by telephone so that you can discuss your concerns.

Advice/Information

If you want to discuss your concerns or need advice e.g. if you not sure whether your concerns are justified, you would like more information about issues like confidentiality or you would like to know what happens next (after you have reported your concerns), do one of the following:

  • Call the NSPCC National Helpline 0808 800 5000
  • Call Children's Services Referral & Assessment Telephone 01733 864170
  • Call Children's Services out of hours Telephone 01733 24724
  • Call the police Emergency 999 Non-emergency 101
  • Check http://www.peterboroughlscb.org.uk/children-board/

Seek permission to refer

In general, you should seek to discuss your concerns with the child as appropriate to their age and understanding, and with their parents. Seek their agreement to making a referral unless you consider such a discussion would place the child at risk of significant harm.

Confidentiality

Sharing of information amongst practitioners working with children and their families is essential. In many cases, it is only when information from a range of sources is put together that a child can be seen to be in need or at risk of harm. You should comply with guidance on confidentiality, but judgement will be required. Defence organisation publications and telephone advice lines are useful sources of information.

As a dental practitioner and dental team members seeing a child, you will have information about the child that no other professional will have. You have a responsibility to share that information appropriately. Where you have identified concerns, you should highlight these to whom you are referring the child, backing those concerns up in writing. In other situations you may be asked to provide information for the purposes of an initial assessment or as a contribution to a case conference.

Who should you report abuse to?

The Practice Manager Jennifer Hopper, The safeguarding lead should contact their local NHS and find the name and number of the named doctor and named nurse who specialises in child protection and obtain Local Safeguarding Children Board protocols and procedures. There will also be local guidelines about what to do in this situation.  These guidelines will identify key personnel and telephone numbers.

Our computer internet browsers have Local safeguarding children board website on a tab link for ease of access for all the team.

The Practice Manager Jennifer Hopper, is responsible for doing this in advance of any concerns being raised so that it is to hand in the event it is needed.

All suspicions and allegations of abuse will be taken seriously and responded to swiftly and appropriately.

Reporting Concerns

If you suspect or believe a child is suffering or is likely to suffer Significant Harm, including any form of mistreatment or abuse, you should report your concerns.

Emergency

If a child is in immediate danger or left alone, you should contact the police, call 999 in an emergency.  Children’s Services team, telephone 01733 864170

Non-Emergency

If there is no immediate danger or you need advice or information, you should call Children's Services Referral & Assessment, telephone 01733864170

Record keeping

All records of the visit and discussions should be recorded in full. In some circumstances it may be necessary to provide diagrams. The records should be completed immediately and not left until the end of the session or day.

Follow up

Where a referral you have made is to a general medical practitioner or paediatrician, they should be contacted again within 24 hours to check that the child was seen. Where you have made a telephone referral to Social Services, ensure that you have followed it up in writing within 48 hours.

Where a referral you have made is to a health visitor or school nurse, they should be contacted again within a month to check that action has been taken.  You may be requested to produce a report for, or to attend, any subsequent case conference or court proceedings. Full records made at the time of the examination are, therefore, vitally important (see above).

If, after this, you are concerned that insufficient action has been taken then you should seek further advice. You may have an ethical responsibility to take further action yourself.  Even when you are confident that you have acted appropriately to protect a child, it is common to experience some worries about the consequences of your actions. 

You may find it helpful to find out more about the action that is taken to protect children, for example, by reading the British Dental Journal articles by Welbury and Murphy and the Child Protection and the dental team publicationor to seek advice from trusted colleagues with more experience in this field.

Support

The practice safeguarding lead The Practice Manager Jennifer Hopperwill obtain contact details of local sources of confidential emotional support for staff if required.

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Our team is committed to continued education and training.

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