Safeguarding when using video calling software (e.g. Zoom) to run 1-1 or group sessions with your users.
Choose video calling software that has an acceptable level of security and adequate privacy settings. Consider accessibility needs too
Check your users have a safe, quiet and private space from which to talk
Take action to reduce the risks listed below
Ranked by likelihood.
1. Call quality is poor or call disconnects: user becomes confused and unsettled and staff fail to hear important things they are saying.
Q. How might you ensure your users have strong enough wifi or data connections for a video call?
2. Inadequate security settings: leave conversations vulnerable to being hacked or traced.
Q. What security settings does this software offer?
Q. Does it ensure the privacy of everyone on the call?
3. Being witnessed leads to further harm: a user (or users) who is at risk of abuse or harm is overheard/seen contacting others in such a way as to increase harm and risk to that individual.
Q. Can any party on the call be overheard or witnessed calling by others in a way that might compromise their privacy?
Q. Can any party on the call be overheard or witnessed by others in a way that might lead to threat from a perpetrator?
4. User discomfort at being visible: users with poor mental health or experiencing trauma or body dysmorphia may feel uncomfortable being visible. This is more likely when the user and worker have not previously met or established trust.
Q. What can we or the software offer users who do not want to be visible on the call?
5. Overwhelmed by group work in an unfamiliar setting: the nature of video calling where delays might occur, social cues are different and individuals risk speaking over one another leaves individuals feeling distressed and upset.
Q. Does the software include functionality (e.g. break-out rooms) that allow for one-to-one support during group sessions?
6. User discloses abuse in a group setting: member makes a disclosure witnessed by others.
Q: Are procedures in place to identify risk and provide support when disclosures are made in a group video setting?
Q: Can my chosen platform enable one-to-one conversation (e.g. a break-out room feature)?
Take more action
Establish a safe word or code in case your user needs to end the call suddenly (e.g. because someone who poses a risk enters a room/house). This makes it easier for them and alerts you to the risk.
Introduce vulnerable users to ‘Signal for Help’ a one-handed gesture that anyone can use to communicate when they are at risk of harm.
Set up shared agreements for group calls. That way users know what to expect, how to speak up and how to ask for support away from the group.
If using break-out rooms then ensure facilitators are available to support them.
Find out whether your platform allows users to hide their own image from themselves. This can help people experiencing body dysmorphia to feel more comfortable. Tell users about this feature.
Group working over video can be intense and emotionally draining. Always encourage reflection and debriefing for both group members and facilitators to ensure people feel supported and not left feeling triggered or traumatised when working remotely.