Safeguarding (Vulnerable People) Policy

  • The National Osteoporosis Society supports and works with a wide range of people throughout the UK and we recognise that some people we are in contact with are vulnerable.
  • All staff members, volunteers and trustees of the National Osteoporosis Society play an important part in promoting the welfare and protection of the vulnerable people with whom the Charity works. We recognise that Trustees have primary responsibility for safeguarding.
  • The aim of this policy is to ensure that the Charity acts appropriately when it becomes aware that a vulnerable person may be at risk. It also provides a framework which ensures that those involved in the care of vulnerable people have the appropriate information and support to enable them to take the necessary steps to stop the abuse happening.
  • Legal Context
  • Human Rights Act - 1998
  • Care Standards Act – 2000
  • Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • The Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act – 2006
  • Dignity in Care Campaign – 2006
  • Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards - 2009
  • Charity Commission - Strategy for dealing with safeguarding vulnerable groups including children, issues in charities - 2013
  • Care Act – 2014
  • Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act - 2016

2.1     Safeguarding

The Charity Commission defines safeguarding and promoting welfare of vulnerable groups and children as:

  • Protecting from maltreatment
  • Preventing impairment of health or development
  • For children – ensuring children are growing up in circumstances consistent with the provision of safe and effective care.

In line with Care and Support Statutory Guidance, issued under the Care Act, 2014:

Safeguarding duties apply to an adult who:

  • Has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of these needs) and;
  • Is experiencing or at risk of, abuse, neglect; and
  • As a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect.

An ‘adult at risk’ could include:

  • People with a disability/physical impairment
  • Older people
  • People with learning difficulties/disabilities
  • People with mental health needs
  • People with sensory impairments
  • People who have suffered a head/brain injury
  • People who misuse drugs and alcohol.

2.2     Abuse

There is no overarching definition of abuse under the Care Act 2014.

However abuse can be about:

  • The violation of an individual’s human and civil rights
  • An action or inaction, either intentional or unintentional by another person or the person themselves
  • The impact of the abuse affecting a person’s wellbeing (this could be emotional, physical etc.)

2.3     Types of abuse:

  • Psychological – includes emotional abuse / threats of harm or abandonment / deprivation of contact / humiliation / controlling behaviour / exploiting, corrupting/ cyber bullying / exposure to the ill treatment of someone else
  • Discriminatory – includes forms of harassment/slurs similar treatment because of race/gender/gender identity/age/disability/sexual orientation or religion.
  • Physical – includes assault/ hitting/ slapping/ pushing/ restraint/ inappropriate punishment/ shaking/ burning etc. Misuse of medication and/ or physical harm caused when a parent/carer fabricates the symptoms of or deliberately induces illness in a child.
  • Financial/material – includes theft/fraud/internet scams/coercion/misuse or misappropriation of property or possessions etc.
  • Neglect/acts of omission – persistent ignoring of medical, emotional or physical care needs / failure to provide access to appropriate healthcare / withholding the necessities of life / unsupervised in inappropriate situations.
  • Sexual – Includes rape / indecent exposure / sexual harassment / exposure to pornography against the person’s will / other sexual acts without consent etc.
  • Organisational – covers neglect and poor practice within an institution or specific care setting or in someone’s own home. Can be through neglect or poor professional practice resulting from policies/culture/systems.
  • Self-neglect – covers a wide range of behaviour eg. Neglecting to care for one’s own health/hygiene/surroundings/hoarding etc.
  • Modern slavery - covers human trafficking / forced labour / domestic servitude / forcing individuals into a life of abuse or inhumane treatment
  • Domestic violence and abuse – the definition of domestic abuse is “Any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial, or emotional, controlling and coercive) between those aged 16 and over who are or have been intimate partners or family members, regardless of gender and sexuality. This includes issues of concern to black and minority ethnic (BME) communities such as so-called ‘honour killings’.”

This list may not be exhaustive but provides examples.

Abuse may be carried out deliberately or unknowingly and it may be a single or repeated act.

People at risk may be abused in more than one way.

2.4     Appropriate Agency

The local authority, or in Northern Ireland the Health and Social Services Board and/or the Police, who are responsible for investigating and co-ordinating all incidents of suspected abuse.

2.5     Designated Person

The person or persons designated within the Charity to whom a member of staff, volunteer or Trustee should report any suspected abuse or neglect. The designated persons are the Clinical and Operations Director and the HR Director.


The National Osteoporosis Society will ensure that:

3.1     Safeguarding and the welfare of all our beneficiaries is embedded in everything that we do.

3.2     Our recruitment, selection and training procedures for staff, volunteers, and trustees take account of the need to safeguard vulnerable people.

3.3     All external agencies that we work with will be required to comply contractually with the policy.

3.4     Induction of new staff, volunteers and trustees will include information on all relevant policies and procedures. On-going training and information will be provided every two years unless there is a change in the law or policy necessitating a change of guidance. This will ensure that staff and volunteers involved with issues relating to the Safeguarding Policy have access to appropriate support and guidance when required. Specialist training is provided to teams where ‘one-on-one’ contact with potentially vulnerable people is an integral part of the role.

3.5     Procedures are in place to ensure that concerns of abuse or neglect are dealt with appropriately and that action is taken promptly. Specific operating practices and procedures are in place for the Nurse Helpline.

3.6     All staff, volunteers and trustees will have a designated person who will have the details of the appropriate local agencies to whom they can report concerns of abuse.

3.7     We recognise differences in legislation for vulnerable people across the UK but adopt the equal principle that vulnerable people should be protected from abuse and neglect.

3.8     Our fundraising activities are ethical. Fundraising activities are carried out in accordance with the Charity’s values and we strive to meet the highest of ethical standards.

3.9     We conduct a rolling programme of Disclosure and Barring Service Checks on: all Trustees, and staff who may come into contact with vulnerable (or potentially vulnerable) people.


4.1     The first priority should always be to ensure the safety and protection of the vulnerable person. To this end it is the responsibility of all staff and volunteers to act on any suspicions of abuse or neglect and to pass on their concerns to a designated person within the Charity or appropriate agency. Please refer to Appendix A ‘Flowchart of staff and volunteer responsibilities for reporting abuse’.

4.2     It is not the responsibility of anyone working, either paid or unpaid, within the Charity, to decide whether or not abuse has taken place or to carry out an investigation as this is the role of the local authority and/or police. These agencies hold the lead responsibility for establishing and co-ordinating the local intra-agency framework for safeguarding vulnerable adults and children.

4.3     All staff, volunteers and trustees are required to act on any concerns raised and ensure that a decision is made on the appropriate action to be taken in each case.  They are required to ensure that they act in line with the National Osteoporosis Society’s policy.

4.4     If a vulnerable adult with whom the Charity is in contact makes a disclosure of abuse or neglect, care should be taken to explain to them that a report will be made to the designated person and/or appropriate agency.

4.5     If it is considered by a member of staff or volunteer that a vulnerable adult or child is in immediate danger then the police should be contacted without delay and a report made to the Clinical and Operations director/HR Director as outlined in 4.6.  See Appendix A.

4.6     Any suspected abuse or neglect must be reported as soon as is practically possible in line with Appendix A to the designated person so a decision can be made as to who will report the concerns to the appropriate agency.  The designated person is as follows:

  • For members of staff to the Clinical and Operations Director/HR Director
  • For trustees to the Clinical and Operations Director/HR Director
  • For support group/volunteers to their Regional Development Manager who would then report to the Clinical and Operations Director/HR Director
  • For high profile supporters to the Clinical and Operations Director/HR Director

4.7     If a member of staff or volunteer is suspected of abuse this must be brought to the immediate attention of the Clinical and Operations Director/HR Director who will alert the appropriate agency. The director will suspend or remove from active service the employee or volunteer pending the outcome of an investigation.

4.8     If the Clinical and Operations Director/HR Director is suspected of abuse this should be reported to the Chief Executive.

4.9     If a trustee or the chief executive is suspected of abuse this should be reported to the chair of trustees, supported by the Clinical and Operations Director/HR Director.

4.10   Personal information may be disclosed without the individual’s consent if there are reasonable grounds to believe that an individual is at risk of harm (see Data Protection Policy)


5.1     The Charity’s approach to protecting vulnerable people will be outlined in the Trustees Annual Report.

The Charity will ensure that any external agencies it works with to provide fundraising activities has a Safeguarding (Vulnerable People) Policy.

The Charity will fully comply with the requirements relating to fundraising practice and vulnerable people as outlined in the Charities (Protection and Social Investment) Act 2016.    

All reported incidents will be recorded by the Charity in line with its Data Protection Policy and reported to the Senior Leadership Team.

Incidents will be reported to the Trustees regularly or by exception where necessary. The Chair of Trustees will be kept informed regularly, as appropriate.       

5.2     Appendix A provides a flowchart for staff and volunteer responsibilities for reporting concerns/incidents of suspected abuse.

5.3     Supporting documents:

    • Nurse Helpline operating practices and procedures

5.4     Further guidance:

  • Finding new trustees (Charity Commission, 2012)
  • Strategy for dealing with safeguarding vulnerable groups including children issues in charities (Charity Commission, 2013)
  • Charities: how to protect vulnerable groups including charities ( 2013)
  • The Essential Trustee (Charity Commission, 2015)
  • White Paper: Guidelines for Contact Centres dealing with vulnerable consumers (Direct Marketing Association 2015)


Flowchart Showing Staff, Volunteer and Trustee Responsibilities for Reporting Concerns/Incidents of Suspected Abuse

This flowchart is to be used in conjumction with section 4 above