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Health visitors can help identify domestic slaves

Health visitors are in a good position to spot the signs of those living as domestic slaves, according to the Institute of Health Visiting.
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Health visitors are in a good position to spot the signs of those living as domestic slaves, according to the Institute of Health Visiting (IHV)

The organisation has developed new good practice guidelines and a new online learning module to help health visitors spot the signs of slavery.

Victims of domestic slavery typically live and work in their employers’ household, performing tasks that could include cooking, cleaning and child care.

They may work 10-16 hours a day and are often on call outside of that time for little or no pay, in poor conditions and with no, or limited, freedom.

'Significant impact'

IHV executive director Cheryll Adams said

Health visitors are in a good position to spot the signs of those living as domestic slaves, according to the Institute of Health Visiting (IHV)

The organisation has developed new good practice guidelines and a new online learning module to help health visitors spot the signs of slavery.

Victims of domestic slavery typically live and work in their employers’ household, performing tasks that could include cooking, cleaning and child care.

They may work 10-16 hours a day and are often on call outside of that time for little or no pay, in poor conditions and with no, or limited, freedom.

'Significant impact'

IHV executive director Cheryll Adams said the scale of domestic slavery was significant and the impact on victims’ lives ‘huge’.

Dr Adams said health visitors could spot signs of slavery and encourage victims to report their situation using the Modern Slavery Helpline.

She said: ‘We are delighted to develop these vital new resources with the government.’

‘[They will] provide health visitors with information and evidence to spot the signs of an individual in domestic slavery to reduce and stop this shocking abuse.’

IHV good practice points include these questions:

  • Do they work more than the normal working hours or seem to be on call 24 hours a day?
  • Does the person seem afraid, anxious and avoid eye contact?
  • Do they seem to stand out from other family members – are they quieter or wearing poorer quality clothing?

Exploitation rates

It is estimated 13,000 men, women and children are trafficked for exploitation in the UK.

Up to one in five of those victims reported coming into contact with healthcare services during the time they were trafficked.

Last autumn, NHS England director of nursing Hilary Garratt told health service staff they played a vital role in identifying and supporting victims of modern slavery crimes.

Further information


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