Principles for Implementing Duty of Care in Health, Social Care or Children’s and Young People’s Settings
1. What duty of care means in children and young people settings? Duty of care is a requirement to exercise reasonable care, attention and caution to avoid negligence which would lead to the harm of other people. ‘The fundamental obligation that anyone working in child care, whatever the type of service and whatever their role, is to keep children safe. ’ (Marilyn Hopkins LLB, Dip. Ed.. (March 2006). DUTY OF CARE. Available: http://www. rch. org. au/emplibrary/ecconnections/CCH_Vol9_No1_March2006. pdf last accessed 26/10/11) It is generally accepted that people in authority have a responsibility for those in their charge.
Therefore practitioners in childcare settings owe a duty of care to the children in their care. They are seen as experts and children and young people rely on their carers to ensure they are cared for properly. A duty of care also extends to the parents, as they too expect practitioners to use their knowledge and expertise to care for their children properly. It is also relevant that in childcare settings, because of a child’s limited ability to care for themselves, a very meticulous and comprehensive duty of care is owed to the children.
More so to an infant than a school aged child due to the differences in their ability to provide for their own needs, look after themselves and their awareness of danger. Duty of care in a childcare setting is keeping children and young people safe, protecting them not only from physical harm but also emotional and sexual harm. It is guarding the rights of a child as they have the right to independence and be treated with respect and dignity. This extends to respecting the rights, cultural beliefs and values of the parents and family.
The Children Act 1989 ‘Its dominant principle was that the child’s welfare should be the major consideration in any decision relating to upbringing; it is assumed that upbringing is normally best within the child’s own family’ (Children and young people’s workforce information sheet, Children Act 1989, level 3 Diploma 2011) It is the Equality Act 2010 that says everyone has a legal duty to provide a service that is non-discriminative and inclusive to all children, including their families and any visitors into the setting.
The Early years Foundation stage is the statutory framework to which all early years providers (birth to five years), must follow and compliance ensures the required standards of duty of care are met, including a child’s learning and development. ‘It sets out the legal requirements relating to learning and development (the early learning goals; the educational programmes; and the assessment arrangements) in section 2 and the legal requirements relating to welfare (safeguarding and promoting children’s welfare; suitable people; suitable premises, environment and equipment; organisation; and documentation) in section 3. (Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage May 2008, section 1 – Introduction; About this document 1. 7) The EYFS requirements are given legal force by the EYFS Order 2007 and regulations made under section 39 (1) (a) and (b), and section 44 (1) of the Childcare Act 2006. We have a duty of care to safeguard the information we hold about others. ‘The Data Protection Act 1998 gives individuals certain rights in relation to the use of their personal data’ (Children and Young people’s Workforce information sheet, Data Protection Act 1998, level 3 Diploma 2011)
The Health and Safety at work Act 1974 requires us to have a duty of care towards ourselves, our colleagues, employees and visitors whilst at work. We have a duty to ensure the safety of ourselves and others and ensure our working environment is safe. We must not put ourselves or others at risk of harm through our actions or work activities. 2. How this contributes to the safeguarding or protection of individuals? Duty – ‘Moral or legal obligation’ (The Oxford Popular Dictionary, 2nd Edition, published 1995 by Parragon Book Service limited).
Meaning we are concerned with right and wrong and strive for good conduct and excellence when complying with an agreement or law. Care – ‘Serious attention and thought; caution to avoid damage or loss; protection’ (The Oxford Popular Dictionary, 2nd Edition, published 1995 by Parragon Book Service limited). Meaning we plan and prepare in detail to minimise hazards and risks in order to protect. Duty of care promotes vigilance in the things we do and the service we provide, it reduces accidents and contributes towards protecting people and keeping them safe.
It puts laws in place to set the standards and best practise we must follow to ensure the safety and well being of individuals. It protects children, yourself and visitors to your setting. Without Duty of care, it would be up to the individual’s conscience and personal standards to safeguard children as there would be no legal standards to follow or benchmark set. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) is the statutory framework that all early years childcare providers must follow. The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) brings together: Curriculum Guidance for the Foundation Stage (2000), the Birth to Three Matters (2002) framework and the National Standards for Under 8s Daycare and Childminding (2003)’ (Children and Young people’s Workforce information sheet, The Early Years Foundation Stage, level 3 Diploma 2011) The EYFS contains general welfare requirements which are specific legal requirements that must be complied with, and statutory guidance to follow that will demonstrate compliance to the specific legal requirements. The requirements safeguard children by; Requiring risk assessment and taking reasonable precautions to avoid accidents and the spreading of infections. ?Setting expectations and clear boundaries to discourage behaviour that could result in a child being upset or harmed. ?Assessing and observing child development and being alert to indications a child’s progress is not as expected so the appropriate action can be taken in partnership with parents and other professionals. ?Understanding abuse and being aware of the signs and the procedures to follow if suspected. The Health and Safety at Work Act contains regulations that we must act on and are legally binding.
Approved codes of practise give advice on how to comply with the law and ensure we meet the regulations and guidance notes that give us further information to help us set, review and improve our standards. They cover areas such as risk assessments, arrangements for implementing necessary measures, competent persons, provision of information and training, basic health, safety and welfare, visual display units, appropriate protective clothing and equipment, equipment safety, manual handling, first aid, liability insurance, reporting of injuries, hearing damage, electrical systems and the control of substances.
It helps us safeguard children and ourselves by requiring us to carry out suitable and sufficient risk assessments at regular intervals for all our activities and the environment we work in. Risk assessments help us to foresee potential hazards that could cause harm and allow us to take all reasonable precautions to avoid accidents and the spread of infections to keep people safe. Health and safety policies and procedures provide information and guidance to employers and employees on how health and safety and safe working are implemented in the work environment.
General duties in the Health and safety at work Act 1974 ‘Section 1: States the general purposes of Part 1 of the Act, which are to maintain or improve standards of health and safety at work, to protect other people against risks arising from work activities, to control the storage and use of dangerous substances and to control certain emissions into the air’ (Children and young people’s workforce information sheet, Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, level 3 Diploma 2011). It is important to have a balanced approach towards duty of care, as it could be easy to take our responsibilities too far.
Children need to take risks to learn how to predict, avoid danger and cope with risky situations. Careful thought needs to be given to duty of care during conflicts and dilemmas. We need to decide what has greater priority in certain circumstances whilst considering the rights of the child and parental responsibilities. Children and parents have the right to privacy in their home and family life. However duty of care outweighs these rights in situations when a child’s welfare is compromised or abuse is suspected. Task B Example of potential conflict or dilemmaHow to manage the riskWhere to get additional support and advice 1.
A child biting another child. Manage the child’s behaviour according to age and stage of development by saying ‘no thank you’ and explaining that teeth are sharp and highlighting the effect of their actions on the other child. Follow the setting’s Biting policy. Manage parents of both children while remaining confidential. The parents of the biter will have feelings of guilt and regret, explain why children bite and discuss ways to manage the behaviour. The parents of the bitten child will have feelings of anger and may want to know which child it was and request they be separated.
Ensure all children are closely supervised so that you can react quickly to intervene. Ask the parents of the child that bites of any changes at home which may have an influence. Ask colleagues or other settings for additional advice or guidance if required. Ask a support childminder for advice and support. Research books or the internet for methods to manage children’s behaviour. Example of potential conflict or dilemmaHow to manage the riskWhere to get additional support and advice 2. A child not developing in line with their age and stage of development i. e. not walking.
Provide activities to encourage walking. Put toys just out of reach to encourage the child to pull themselves up to stand Create an activity table to stand at. Observe and evaluate the child. Discuss concerns with the parents. Working in partnership with the parents, decide what to do next. Ask colleagues or other settings for additional advice or guidance if required. Ask a support childminder for advice and support. Development worker. Health visitor (with parents consent). Example of potential conflict or dilemmaHow to manage the riskWhere to get additional support and advice 3.
A child with frequent injuries. Keep a record of existing injuries. Discuss with the parents and ask them to sign the Existing injuries form. Consider the age and stage of development of the child. Follow my setting’s Safeguarding policy and procedure. Discuss concerns with the Designated person in my setting who is trained to deal with safeguarding issues. Obtain advice and guidance from Child protection team via the local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB). Task C 1. The main points of agreed procedures for handling complaints in children and young people’s settings.
It is very important to have detailed written procedures and policies for your setting. These must be shared and agreed with parents so that both the childcare provider and parents know how things will work. A complaints procedure can be used if something does go wrong, as it gives a structured process that both parties can follow to resolve the issue. The complaints procedure for my setting is detailed below. Complaints Procedure We endeavour to provide a safe and caring environment for your child. By working together in close partnership we believe that we can help your child to reach their full potential.
Having regular discussions will help us to achieve this aim We hope you would feel able to discuss any concerns or issues with us directly, so that every effort can be made to resolve the matter. We always welcome any suggestions and take any concerns seriously, no matter how insignificant they may seem. If you would rather discuss the matter at a more appropriate time other than when dropping off or collecting, we can arrange a convenient time for you. We hope that we can resolve any concerns you have by discussion and agree a plan of action to achieve a satisfactory outcome.
If we are unable to resolve your concerns by discussion and the nature of your complaint is in breach of one or more of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) statutory requirements and/or the requirements for the Childcare Register, you must put your complaint in writing to us. If we do receive a formal written complaint, we will inform Ofsted within 14 days that a complaint has been made. We will investigate all complaints and notify the parents of the outcomes of the investigation within 28 days. We will keep a written record of all complaints and their outcomes for at least three years.
Confidentiality will be maintained but, as required we will provide Ofsted upon request, with a written record of all complaints within a specified period and the action taken as a result of each complaint. We display Ofsted’s poster for parents which introduces Ofsted’s childcare responsibilities and gives Ofsted contact details. If your complaint cannot be resolved or if the complaint is of a serious nature and you feel you cannot discuss it with us, please contact Ofsted on 03001 231231. Ofsted produces guidance on concerns and complaints about childminders and childcare providers.
This is available on their website www. ofsted. gov. uk/parents and provides guidance on the complainant’s right to contact Ofsted. If the nature of your complaint does not breach of any of the statutory requirements and you would like some advice regarding your concerns, you can talk in confidence to; NCA (Northampton Childminding Association) General Enquiry line 0845 838 3724 or NCMA (National Childminding Association) Advice Line 0800 169 4486 (GT Childminding, Complaints procedure 2011) The main points of our complaints procedure are; Work together with parents in partnership. ?Take all concerns seriously no matter how insignificant they may seem. ?Discuss concerns at an appropriate time suitable to both parties. ?Agree a plan of action to achieve a satisfactory outcome. ?A breach of EYFS or Childcare register requirements must be put in writing. ?Inform Ofsted of a written complaint within 14 days. ?Investigate the complaint and inform parents of the outcome within 28 days. ?Keep written records of all complaints for at least 3 years. ?Make records available to an Ofsted inspector if required. Provide contact details of the relevant authorities for reporting and advice. 2. How they would respond to a complaint? When responding to complaints it is important to have an open and honest approach and treat people with respect. An important and influencing factor of how you respond is the manner in which you do it. ‘Always welcome any suggestions and take any concerns seriously, no matter how insignificant they may seem. ’ (GT Childminding, Complaints procedure 2011) Listen to what the parents have to say, see things from both perspectives and respect the parent’s point of view.
It is crucial to maintain a positive relationship at all times and remember your duty of care towards parents and their children. Consider the age of the child and associated requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage and Childcare Register. Verbal complaints can be discussed with the parent at an appropriate time and through discussion try to find a satisfactory solution. Log the complaint and agree an action plan to achieve the desired outcome. A formal written complaint must be investigated and Ofsted informed within 14 days.
The parents must be informed of the outcome of the investigation within 28 days. A written record must be kept of all complaints and made available to an Ofsted inspector upon request. In all cases of complaint, maintaining our duty of care towards parents and children is our legal obligation. ‘In addition, establishing relationships with parents where there is open communication and where parents are welcomed to ask questions and voice concerns will result in a shared care experience which is better for carers, parents and most importantly children. (Marilyn Hopkins LLB, Dip. Ed. (March 2006). DUTY OF CARE. Available: http://www. rch. org. au/emplibrary/ecconnections/CCH_Vol9_No1_March2006. pdf last accessed 26/10/11) Bibliography Children and Young People’s Workforce Information sheet, Children Act 1989, level 3 Diploma 2011, issued by YMCA training Children and Young people’s Workforce information sheet, Data Protection Act 1998, level 3 Diploma 2011, issued by YMCA training Children and young people’s workforce information sheet, Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, level 3 Diploma 2011, issued by YMCA training
Children and Young people’s Workforce information sheet, The Early Years Foundation Stage, level 3 Diploma 2011, issued by YMCA training (Marilyn Hopkins LLB, Dip. Ed. (March 2006). DUTY OF CARE. Available: http://www. rch. org. au/emplibrary/ecconnections/CCH_Vol9_No1_March2006. pdf. last accessed 26/10/11) GT Childminding, Complaints procedure 2011 Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage May 2008, section 1 – Introduction; About this document 1. 7 The Oxford Popular Dictionary, 2nd Edition, published 1995 by Parragon Book Service limited