ABUSE PREVENTION POLICY LUTHERAN HOSPITAL MINISTRIES-SOUTHERN ALBERTA

  1. INTRODUCTION

    1.1 Christ calls us to love, serve, care for and safeguard one another. Jesus says:

    “A new commandment I give you; love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. All men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

    The mandate to care for and safeguard one another includes an obligation to prevent abuse. This duty extends to employees, Board members and volunteers, and anyone else connected with Lutheran Hospital Ministries – Southern Alberta (collectively referred to in this policy as the “Ministry”). The Ministry is committed to maintaining a healthy, harassment and abuse free environment for everyone, and to fostering a climate of mutual understanding and respect, where all are equal in dignity and rights.

  2. DEFINITIONS

    2.1 Abuse can take many forms. The Ministry and its Board of Directors (Board) are committed to preventing all forms of abuse, including those specifically defined below.

    2.2 Harassment. Harassment is a form of discrimination, and occurs when one person is subjected to unsolicited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based upon these personal characteristics: race, religious belief, colour, place of origin, gender, mental or physical disability, ancestry, marital status, family status, source of income, political belief, age or sexual orientation.

    2.3 Examples of harassment that will not be tolerated within the Ministry are: verbal or physical abuse, threatening or derogatory remarks, innuendo or taunts, the possession or display of pornographic, racist or offensive signs or images, the playing of practical jokes for the purpose of embarrassment or inviting unwelcome request, either implied or explicit.

    2.4 Sexual Harassment…Sexual harassment is a particular form of harassment where the conduct, comments, gestures or contact are of a sexual nature, whether on a one-time basis or in a continuous series of incidents. Sexual harassment detrimentally affects the work environment, and leads to adverse job-related consequences for the victim. It can manifest itself in such blatant forms as leering, grabbing, or assault. However, sexual harassment can mean any conduct that:

    1. (a) Might reasonably be expected to cause offence, embarrassment, humiliation or fear to an employee, volunteer Board member, or other person; or
    2. (b) Might reasonably be expected to be perceived by the employee, volunteer, Board member or other person as placing a condition of a sexual nature on the employment or other relationship with the Ministry, or on any opportunity for training or advancement.

    2.5 Criminal Harassment…Criminal harassment means to engage in conduct, either knowingly or recklessly, leading the harassed person to fear for their safety or the safety of someone known to them. Such conduct can consist of repeatedly following the harassed person, or someone else know to them, from place to place (or “stalking” them), or repeatedly communicating with the harassed person, either directly or indirectly, or someone know to them.

    2.6 Assault…Assault is the intentional application of force to another person, either directly or indirectly. It also includes attempts or threats to apply such force to another person.

    2.7 Sexual Assault… Sexual assault means to assault a person in circumstances of a sexual nature.

    2.8 Child Sexual Abuse… Child sexual abuse is the misuse of power by someone who manipulates, tricks, forces, or coerces a child or adolescent into sexual contact.

    2.9 Financial Influence. Financial influence means that we indirectly or directly, intentionally or unintentionally, impose a monetary influence on anyone we visit. We are not to profit or be compensated for our visitations.

  3. APPLICATION OF THIS POLICY

    3.1 This policy applies to every person affiliated with the Ministry, including:

    1. (a) Employees
    2. (b) Volunteers
    3. (c) Board members
    4. (d) Any person holding a position of authority or responsibility with the Ministry, including members of the Board of Directors, or any other board or committee of the Ministry, while acting in any capacity on behalf of the Ministry or engaged in any business or activities related in any way to the Ministry.
  4. POLICY

    4.1 Abuse in any form, whether directed at adults or children, will not be tolerated within the Ministry.

    4.2 All allegations of abuse will be treated seriously, confidentially, fairly and promptly by the Board, or its delegate body, in a manner that will encourage, without fear of reprisal, the reporting in good faith of alleged abuse.

    4.3 Unfounded, improper, malicious or mischievous allegations of abuse will not be tolerated.

    4.4 Any abuse deemed to be of a serious nature (including those described under sections 2.5, 2.6, 2.7 and 2.8) will be referred immediately to the appropriate authorities, police or Children’s Services.

  5. ABUSE PREVENTION TEAM

    5.1 For the purposes of accepting complaints of abuse, investigating those complaints and recommending disciplining or other consequences in the event of proven allegations, the Board will establish and maintain an Abuse Prevention Team.

    5.2 In this policy, the term “Board” includes any other body or committee within the Ministry to which the Board has delegated responsibility.

    5.3 The Board will appoint a minimum of two people connected with the Ministry (one of each gender) to the Abuse Prevention Team, and will delegate to those two people the responsibility of receiving complaints. One of the two members is the Director of Pastoral Care unless there is a conflict.

    5.4 The Board will develop and, from time to time, amend internal policies and procedures to be followed by the Abuse Prevention Team in respect of handling complaints, including procedures for consistent and confidential investigation.

    5.5 The mandate of the Abuse Prevention Team is:

    1. (a) To enforce this policy;
    2. (b) To ensure that all Ministry affiliates are acquainted with this policy’s scope and procedures;
    3. (c) To provide material and training to all employees and volunteers to know and understand all forms of abuse;
    4. (d) To ensure that all Ministry affiliates are informed of the identity, addresses, phone numbers, fax numbers, or e-mail addresses of the members of the Abuse Prevention team charge with receiving complaints under this policy;
    5. (e) To provide all new Ministry affiliates with orientation and training with respect to this policy;
    6. (f) To annually review this policy to ensure that it continues to comply with the needs of the Ministry as well as the current legislation;
    7. (g) To annually review the abuse policy reminding all employees and volunteers to ensure that all remain up-to-date with the safe practices of the abuse policy;
    8. (h) To ensure that the team members designated to receive complaints are, and continue to be, accessible to all Ministry affiliates;
    9. (i) To receive complaints and inform the parties of their respective rights and responsibilities;
    10. (j) Where it deems it necessary, to promptly and fairly investigate complaints in accordance with internal policies and procedures;
    11. (k) To notify the Board of all formal complaints made, and to report to the Board, as required, throughout and at the conclusion of any investigation;
    12. (l) To maintain complete confidentiality;
    13. (m) Where, as a result of a proper investigation, a complaint is proven unfounded, to recommend to the Board the appropriate discipline of the complainant;
    14. (n) Where, as a result of a proper investigation, the complaint is proven, to recommend to the Board the appropriate discipline for the abuser.

    5.6 Disciplinary action may include:

    1. (a) A warning;
    2. (b) Suggested counseling;
    3. (c) Removal, suspension or, in the case of a Ministry employee, dismissal.

    5.7 The members of the Abuse Prevention team will maintain their positions at the discretion and pleasure of the Board.

    5.8 All Ministry affiliates are responsible for identifying situations contrary to this policy, and for bringing them to the attention the Abuse Prevention Team.

    5.9 All files detailing ongoing or completed complaint investigations will be kept in secure files, accessible only the Abuse Prevention Team and designated officials of the Board.

    5.10 Regardless of the outcome of any complaint made in good faith, the complainant, as well as anyone else providing information in the course of an investigation, will be protected from any form retaliation or consequence by either co-workers, Ministry employees, superiors or any other Min0istry affiliate.

  6. COMPLAINT PROCEDURES

    6.1 Step 1…Any Ministry affiliate who believes that he or she, or a child, has been the subject of minor abuse (not including abuse described under sections 2.5. 2.6, 2.7, and 2.8, all of which is considered serious) is encouraged, where possible, to make it clear to the abuser that such behavior is unwelcome, and should ask that the abuse stop.

    6.2 Step 2… If resolving the concerns under Step 1 is inappropriate or fails, the complainant shall make a complaint in writing, to the Abuse Prevention Team designated to receive such complaints.

    6.3 Step 3…At its discretion, the Abuse Prevention Team may attempt to informally resolve the situation without the need for a formal investigation.

    6.4 Step 4…Where, after an initial assessment, the Abuse Prevention Team concludes that it is not possible to resolve the complaint without a formal investigation, it will require the complainant to produce to it any record of incidents of abuse, including dates, times, locations, possible witnesses, details of the abuse and the complaint’s response to that abuse.

    6.5 Step 5…The Abuse Prevention Team will:

    1. Make arrangements for a thorough and unbiased investigation to be conducted in as timely and confidential a manner as possible and in accordance with internal policies and procedures;
    2. (a) Request a written response from the alleged abuser, and show that response to the complainant;
    3. (b) Interview the complainant as well as any witnesses to the behavior, if necessary;
    4. (c) Interview the alleged abuse;
    5. (d) Keep the parties to the complaint informed of the steps being taken during the investigative process;
    6. (e) Prepare a written report outlining the allegations of the complainant, the alleged abuser’s response, the evidence of any witnesses interviewed, and the conclusions reached by the Abuse Prevention Team;
    7. (f) Arrive at an appropriate recommended corrective/disciplinary action in the event that the complainant’s allegations are proven;
    8. (g) Provide to the Board both a written report, including the conclusions reached by the Abuse Prevention Team, and its recommendations as to corrective/disciplinary action.

    6.6 It is the obligation of every Ministry affiliate to cooperate fully with the Abuse Prevention Team in its investigations of any alleged complaints of abuse.

  7. SCREENING PROCEDURES

    7.1 Screening procedures will be required for all employees, volunteers and Board members to best meet the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual needs of all Ministry affiliates, and especially the vulnerable section (elderly and children).

    7.2 Screening tools at the disposal of the Board, in respect of any prospective Ministry affiliate will include:

    (a) The mandatory completion of personal information forms;

    (b) Personal interviews;

    (c) Reference checks must be received from at least three (3) individuals;

    (d) Criminal Record Checks;

    (e) Child Welfare Information System Check

    7.3. A Criminal Record Check will occur:

    (a) Prior to approving any appointment or placement of an applicant, but not until such time as the Board is satisfied that he or she is otherwise appointable to the position;

    (b) As a condition of employment or other type of relationship with the Ministry, during the course of that relationship at intervals deemed appropriate by the Board; and

    (c) At any time considered reasonable by the Board.

    7.4 The Board will ensure that any information obtained as a result of the Criminal

    Record Check will be used only for the purposes of assessing the appropriateness of forming or continuing an employment or other type of relationship with the applicant. Any and all information obtained in respect of an applicant will be kept confidential, and will not be disseminated to anyone except those persons with a direct interest in the applicant’s appointment.

    7.5 These checks will be repeated every 5 years or more often at the discretion of the Board.

  8. MINISTRY AFFILIATE TRAINING

    8.1 The Board may, at its discretion, develop suggested procedures and guidelines for dissemination to all Ministry affiliates in respect of:

    (a) Handling difficult situations;

    (b) Physical and behavioral indicators of abuse.




    Reviewed by the Board of Directors February 20, 2016