Qualified & Practising: The Diary of a Junior Physiotherapist [S1E4] - A Reflection on Safeguarding

by Nikki Anderton





In this new blog series, our lovely Nikki is taking over to tell us about her experience as a newly qualified physio and to describe the joys, fears and challenges she meets along the way. She'll also share her tips which might be useful to some of you too!



s part of my induction to the Trust, I completed a mandatory training in Safeguarding adults and children. Deep down, I sincerely hoped I would never need to access this service in my career.

My heart sunk when one of my patients made some concerning comments about her husband. Small alarm bells were first raised when she complained that her husband had threatened to put Deep Heat on her knee post total knee replacement. But, perhaps this was just an innocent lack of education, so I explained to the patient that this was the wrong thing to do.

As I continued to treat this lady, she started to make more concerning comments, nothing to suggest that her husband is physically abusive, more emotionally abusive. This lady was extremely anxious and became tearful a number of times. She continued to go on to say that she didn’t want to be with her husband anymore. The patient made similar comments to other therapists in the team and I raised it as a concern with the MDT.

I followed the Trust’s Safeguarding Pathway. I sought advice from my senior and then explained to the patient that a Safeguarding referral could be made. She did not consent to a referral, however took the details of the Adult Safeguarding Team in case she wished to contact them in the future.

The Department of Health recognizes Safeguarding adults as an integral part of patient care. As a qualified healthcare professional I felt an immense urge to try to protect the well-being of this patient. I felt a level of responsibility to save this patient and when she declined any further input I felt as though I had failed.

I took time to reflect on this, and, although she did not consent to the Safeguarding referral, I have accepted that passing on the appropriate contact details to the patient and documenting everything, is a step forwards. I realised that as this lady has capacity to make her own decisions, offering support and signposting the services she could access was perhaps enough help for the time being.

I now feel as though I am more familiar with the Safeguarding Adults pathway, which will make me feel more at ease if I am faced with a similar situation in the future. Tip: Make sure you are up to date with your mandatory training!!


A few useful definitions and resources from The DoH:


  • Safeguarding adults is abut the safety and well being of all patients by providing additional measures for those least able to protect themselves from harm or abuse” 
  • A vulnerable adult is a person:

“who is or may be in need of community care services by reason of mental or other disability, age or illness; and who is or may be unable to take care of him or herself, or unable to protect him or herself against significant harm or exploitation”.

  • Safeguarding adults is shaped by 6 principles:
  1. Empowerment - Presumption of person led decisions and consent
  2. Protection - Support and representation for those in greatest need
  3. Prevention - Prevention of harm and abuse is a primary objective
  4. Proportionality - Proportionality and least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented
  5. Partnerships - Local solutions through services working with communities
  6. Accountability -  Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding





      Nikki Anderton

      About the author

      Nikki Anderton

      Nikki is a newly-qualified physiotherapist with a previous degree in Human Communication Sciences, currently working in a busy university hospital in East London. She was the first ever to sign up to one of our seminars when we started back in 2015; now a year down the line, she's our first ever resident blogger! Expect to see (and read) more of her very soon!