Safeguarding children

February 2012

The Optical Confederation has published guidance on safeguarding children and vulnerable adults for optical practitioners and optical practices. The guidance, developed in collaboration with the College of Optometrists and the Department of Health, sets out in a simple non-bureaucratic way, what optical staff and practices need to do. Details of common signs and symptoms of abuse and neglect are included with a simple protocol which all optical practitioners and staff can follow.    

The five step protocol has been designed to assist practitioners to:

observe and record signs    
discuss with a senior colleague if appropriate    
act as appropriate (including informing the statutory agencies)    
confirming notification to and advice from local safeguarding contacts    
noting advice received and actions.    

The guidance also provides model notification forms to assist practitioners in focussing their observations and reporting to the statutory agencies as appropriate.    

An online training module has been developed by Directorate of Optometric Continuing Education and Training (DOCET) to further assist optometrists when safeguarding children, available at: http://www.docet.info/cms/elearning/safe-children.cfm

DOCET is also preparing a similar module for vulnerable adults which will be released in due course.    

Speaking for the Optical Confederation, David Hewlett said: The national optical bodies are fully signed up to the principles of safeguarding but these have to be implemented in a way that also works in the context of optical practice. We have now achieved this with a simple protocol that will work for every member of staff in an optical practice ensuring that, as a sector, we can play our full part in safeguarding vulnerable adults and children without putting either them or practitioners at further risk.

Geoff Roberson, from the Association of Optometrists added: the Optical Confederations member bodies stand ready to advise practitioners, practices, the NHS and local authorities on implementing this guidance, including offering confidential advice and support to practices and practitioners in specific cases where necessary.