Safeguarding vulnerable adults: learning from the reflective assignments of pre-registration students in the adult field of nursing practice

Stevens, Emma and Cook, Katie (2015). Safeguarding vulnerable adults: learning from the reflective assignments of pre-registration students in the adult field of nursing practice. The Journal of Adult Protection, 17(1) pp. 31–40.



The purpose of this paper was to identify safeguarding concerns for vulnerable adults, including exploring the implementation of safeguarding policy and procedures into practice. This was achieved by reviewing the content of reflective assignments written by pre-registration student nurses, identifying areas of concerns and proposing action plans.

A qualitative approach was initially utilised to scrutinise a random 10 per cent sample of work, which was thematically analysed. From this, an audit tool was devised and then applied to evaluate a 35 per cent sample of work from the following cohort of students. Approval and consent was gained.

From the initial 10 per cent sample, themes emerged around: practice issues; areas for student's development and marking or assessment issues. The standardised audit tool was devised and applied to a 35 per cent random sample of work. This determined that students identified local safeguarding policies and procedures were being followed in the majority of placement areas, although application of the Mental Capacity Act remained inconsistent.

Research limitations/implications
The assessor feedback from the reflective assignments was not available to the reviewers, limiting the reviewers ability to identify if assessors had recognised and corrected any policy or practice issues that the student raised. Only assignments from the adult field of nursing were considered within the scope of this study. The authors recommend further empirical investigation into this area.

Practical implications
This paper offers knowledge that can be applied in practice within both academic and health care provider services that deliver and facilitate nursing education. It has generated an audit tool that can be utilised to evaluate the knowledge of pre-registration students and has resulted in the implementation of safeguarding adults policies within an academic institution.

Safeguarding adults concerns may be identified through studying pre-registration student assignments and promptly acting upon any concerns raised. Aspects of good practice can be acknowledged within health care provider services.

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