A hand at a difficult moment
When I teach about safeguarding and dealing with child protection disclosures one aspect gets a lot of people thinking. What do you say when you meet a child, young person or vulnerable adult who disclosures something sensitive. Most of the safeguarding literature focus on what you shouldn't say "Don't ask closed questions" & "Don't promise confidentiality" for example. But what should people be saying? I recommend this little memory jog to provide 5 phrases that I think are useful (or needed) in most safeguarding disclosures.
Sad to start with a negative but it is really important to quickly introduce this idea into the conversation. As soon as you feel that the conversation is moving into sensitive areas you should remind the individual that if you are worried about someone's safety you will have to pass on this information.
Thank you for telling me
It is really important that you remind and reassure the individual that they did the right thing by telling someone. Thank you for trusting them enough to share this information.
Simple question to encourage the individual to keep talking and share more information. They may be holding more stuff back testing the water with some information and waiting to see how you react. It is good to encourage them to share everything they are worried about.
How do you feel?
Any serious disclosure will be wrapped up with complex emotions and recognising this and showing concern is an important part of caring for the individual. Also is a good question to help clarify the situation and their thinking on the issue.
What do you want to happen next?
This is a great questions to see how the individual is seeing the issue and what they think should happen. Are they telling you because they want your emotional support for an issue which happen in the past and has been dealt with by authorities before. Or are they telling you because they have never told anyone and they want the situation to stop. This question helps to reassure the individual that they have some control over their life and things may move fast and be scary involving other people/services but they are still important.
By no means is this a complete list and their are many other questions you can ask and things you can say. But if you just remember these 5 it is a good start. Please let me know if you have other suggestions or other tricks you use.