Safety management plan: observation

The purpose of observation is to ensure the safety of the child or young person whilst on the ward. Your safety management plan may include actions such as being within arm's reach of the child or young person at all times or maintaining verbal contact during toilet visits. Your observation can be made easier if you have built up a trusting relationship and have explained to the child or young person why these measures are necessary.

The supervision process should be more than to contain danger, or minimise negative, potentially harmful or life-threatening events. Observation can be an opportunity to develop a meaningful relationship with the child or young person and to offer social support. If the wrong approach is used, this can cause the child or young person to become withdrawn, ashamed or aggressive.

Click on the following video clip to see one child or young person's perspective on being observed

Learning Points

Learning Points

When deciding and agreeing the level of supervision required it is also important to:

  1. Establish with the multi disciplinary team the level of supervision required and who will be involved.
  2. Take into account the child or young person's views about being observed.
  3. Explain to the child or young person the purpose and reasons why they are being observed i.e. to keep them safe. Emphasise to the child or young person that you are always available to speak with them during the period of observation.
Biographical account read by actor


"One of the worst things about being in hospital was when someone had to watch me constantly. I didn't really know why they were there or what they were supposed to be looking for. It was so uncomfortable and awkward. I mean the ward was the last place I wanted to be and this made it even worse to be honest. I guess maybe if they had tried speaking with me, or letting me know why they were there - instead of hardly saying anything and looking bored, it wouldn't have been so awkward and annoying."

[Biographical account read by actor]