5.2 Appendix 2 – Roles and responsibilities, Safeguarding Adults Board functions and Safeguarding Adults Reviews
Local roles and responsibilities
Roles and responsibilities should be clear and collaboration should take place at all the following levels:
- supervisory line management
- practice leadership
- strategic leadership within the senior management team
- corporate/cross authority
- chief officers/chief executives
- local authority members and local police and crime commissioners
- providers of services
- voluntary organisations
- regulated professionals
Operational front line staff are responsible for identifying and responding to allegations of abuse and substandard practice. Staff at operational level need to share a common view of what types of behaviour may be abuse or neglect and what to do as an initial response to a suspicion or allegation that it is or has occurred. This includes GPs. It is employers’ and commissioners’ duty to set these out clearly and reinforce regularly.
It is not for front line staff to second-guess the outcome of an enquiry in deciding whether or not to share their concerns. There should be effective and well-publicised ways of escalating concerns where immediate line managers do not take action in response to a concern being raised.
Concerns about abuse or neglect must be reported whatever the source of harm is. It is imperative that poor or neglectful care is brought to the immediate attention of managers and responded to swiftly, including ensuring immediate safety and well-being of the adult. Where the source of abuse or neglect is a member of staff it is for the employer to take immediate action and record what they have done and why (similarly for volunteers and or students).
There should be clear arrangements in place about what each agency should contribute at this level. These will cover approaches to enquiries and subsequent courses of action. The local authority is responsible for ensuring effective co-ordination at this level.
Case Study 11.
A resident at a local care home told the district nurse that staff members spoke disrespectfully to her and that there were episodes of her waiting a long time for the call bell to be answered when wanting to use the commode. The resident wished to leave the home as she was very unhappy with the treatment she was receiving, and was regularly distressed and tearful.
The resident was reluctant for a formal safeguarding enquiry to take place, but did agree that the issues could be discussed with the manager. The district nurse negotiated some actions with the manager to promote good practice and address the issues that had been raised. When the district nurse reviewed the situation; the manager at the care home had dealt with the issues appropriately and devised an action plan. The resident stated that she was now happy at the care home – staff ‘couldn’t be more helpful’ - and she no longer wanted to move.
Line managers’ supervision
Skilful and knowledgeable supervision focused on outcomes for adults is critically important in safeguarding work. Managers have a central role in ensuring high standards of practice and that practitioners are properly equipped and supported. It is important to recognise that dealing with situations involving abuse and neglect can be stressful and distressing for staff and workplace support should be available.
Managers need to develop good working relationships with their counterparts in other agencies to improve cooperation locally and swiftly address any differences or difficulties that arise between front line staff or managers.
They should have access to legal advice when proposed interventions, such as the proposed stopping of contact between family members, or if it is unclear whether proposed serious and/or invasive medical treatment is likely to be in the best interests of the adult who lacks capacity to consent, require applications to the Court of Protection. Practice leadership
All social workers undertaking work with adults should have access to a source of additional advice and guidance particularly in complex and contentious situations.
Principal social workers are often well-placed to perform this role or to ensure that appropriate practice supervision is available.
Principal social workers in the local authority are responsible for providing professional leadership for social work practice in their organisation and organisations undertaking statutory responsibilities on behalf of the local authority. Practice leaders/principal social workers should ensure that practice is in line with this guidance.
Making safeguarding personal represents a fundamental shift in social work practice and underpins all healthcare delivery in relation to safeguarding, with a focus on the person not the process. As the professional lead for social work, principal social workers and senior healthcare safeguarding professionals should have a broad knowledge base on safeguarding and making safeguarding personal and are confident in its application in their own and others’ work.
All providers of healthcare should have in place named professionals, who are a source of additional advice and support in complex and contentious cases within their organisation. There should be a designated professional lead in the CCG, who is a source of advice and support to the governing body in relation to the safeguarding of individuals and is able to act as the lead in the management of complex cases.
All commissioners and providers of healthcare should ensure that staff have the necessary competences and that training in place to ensure that their staff are able to deliver the service in relation to the safeguarding of individuals. This is strengthened by the development of the safeguarding adults: roles and competences for health care staff - intercollegiate document, which details the levels of training and competencies required for the different groups of staff in the organisations.
Many of the police investigators involved in safeguarding investigations specially trained for that role and work in specialist units. Each of those units has a set of arrangements to help provide advice and guidance to ensure that a thorough investigation takes place in order to achieve successful outcomes for the individual.
The police service itself has identified ways that enable non specialist officers to seek advice from supervisors at every stage of the safeguarding process, even when specialist departments are unavailable. Strategic leadership within the senior management team
Each SAB member agency - local authority, clinical commissioning groups and police, should identify a senior manager to take a lead role in the organisational and in inter-agency arrangements, including the SAB. In order for the Board to be an effective decision-making body providing leadership and accountability, members need to be sufficiently senior within their organisation and have the authority to commit the required resources and able to make strategic decisions. To achieve effective working relationships, based on trust and transparency, the members will need to understand the contexts and restraints within which their counterparts work.
All police forces in England and Wales have a head of public protection that has strategic management responsibility for all aspects of protecting people in vulnerable situations, including adults at risk. The role of the head of public protection is to build an effective working team and develop a multi-agency approach into alleged offences involving people in vulnerable circumstances. They will also have responsibility for managing and developing policy that ensures standardised processes of investigation and working practice throughout each force. The police and clinical commissioning groups are now represented at a strategic level on every local safeguarding adults board and contact details for the individuals concerned will be available to the Board and all Board members.
Corporate/cross authority roles
To ensure effective partnership working, each organisation must recognise and accept its role and functions in relation to adult safeguarding. These should be set out in the SAB’s strategic plan as well as its own communication channels. They should also have protocols for mediation and family group conferences and for various forms of dispute resolution.
Chief Officers and Chief Executives
As chief officer for the leading adult safeguarding agency, the Director of Adult Social Services (DASS) has a particularly important leadership and challenge role to play in adult safeguarding.
Responsible for promoting prevention, early intervention and partnership working is a key part of a DASS’s role and also critical in the development of effective safeguarding. Taking a personalised approach to adult safeguarding requires a DASS promoting a culture that is person-centred, supports choice and control and aims to tackle inequalities.
However, all officers, including the chief executive of the local authority, NHS and police chief officers and executives should lead and promote the development of initiatives to improve the prevention, identification and response to abuse and neglect. They need to be aware of and able to respond to national developments and ask searching questions within their own organisations to assure themselves that their systems and practices are effective in recognising and preventing abuse and neglect. The Chief Officers must sign off their organisation’s contributions to the Strategic Plan and Annual Reports.
Chief officers should receive regular briefings of case law from the Court of Protection and the High Courts.
Local authority members
Local authority members need to have a good understanding of the range of abuse and neglect issues that can affect adults and of the importance of balancing safeguarding with empowerment. Local authority members need to understand prevention, proportionate interventions, and the dangers of risk adverse practice and the importance of upholding human rights. Some SABs include elected members and this is one way of increasing awareness of members and ownership at a political level. Others take the view that members are more able to hold their officers to account if they have not been party to Board decision making, though they should always be aware of the work of the SAB. Managers must ensure that members are aware of any critical local issues, whether of an individual nature, matters affecting a service or a particular part of the community.
In addition, Local Authority Health Scrutiny Functions, such as the Council’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) and Community Safety Partnerships can play a valuable role in assuring local safeguarding measures, and ensuring that SABs are accountable to local communities. Similarly, local Health and Wellbeing Boards provide leadership to the local health and wellbeing system; ensure strong partnership working between local government and the local NHS; and ensure that the needs and views of local communities are represented. HWBs can therefore play a key role in assurance and accountability of SABs and local safeguarding measures. Equally SABs may on occasion challenge the decisions of HWBs from that perspective.
Commissioners from the local authority, NHS and CCGs are all vital to promoting adult safeguarding. Commissioners have a responsibility to assure themselves of the quality and safety of the organisations they place contracts with and ensure that those contracts have explicit clauses that holds the providers to account for preventing and dealing promptly and appropriately with any example of abuse and neglect.
Providers of services
All service providers, including housing and housing support providers, should have clear operational policies and procedures that reflect the framework set by the SABs in consultation with them. This should include what circumstances would lead to the need to report outside their own chain of line management, including outside their organisation to the local authority. They need to share information with relevant partners such as the local authority even where they are taking action themselves. Providers should be informed of any allegation against them or their staff and treated with courtesy and openness at all times. It is of critical importance that allegations are handled sensitively and in a timely way both to stop any abuse and neglect but also to ensure a fair and transparent process. It is in no-one’s interests to unnecessarily prolong enquiries. However some complex issues may take time to resolve.
Voluntary organisations need to work with commissioners and the SAB to agree how their role fits alongside the statutory agencies and how they should work together. This will be of particular importance where they are offering information and advice, independent advocacy, and support or counselling services in safeguarding situations. This will include telephone or on-line services. Additionally, many voluntary organisations also provide care and support services, including personal care. All voluntary organisations that work with adults need to have safeguarding procedures and lead officers.
Staff governed by professional regulation (for example, social workers, doctors, allied health professionals and nurses) should understand how their professional standards and requirements underpin their organisational roles to prevent, recognise and respond to abuse and neglect.
Recruitment and training for staff and volunteers
The SAB should ensure that relevant partners provide training for staff and volunteers on the policy, procedures and professional practices that are in place locally, which reflects their roles and responsibilities in safeguarding adult arrangements. Employers, student bodies and voluntary organisations should also undertake this, recognising their critical role in preventing and detecting abuse. This should include:
- basic mandatory induction training with respect to awareness of spotting signs of abuse and the duty to report
- more detailed awareness training, including training on recognition of abuse and responsibilities with respect to the procedures in their particular agency
- specialist training for those who will be undertaking enquiries, and managers; and, training for elected members and others e.g. healthwatch members
- post qualifying or advanced training for those who work with more complex enquiries and responses or who act as their organisation’s expert in a particular field, for example in relation to legal or social work, those who provide medical or nursing advice to the organisation or the Board
Training should take place at all levels in an organisation and be updated regularly to reflect current best practice. To ensure that practice is consistent – no staff group should be excluded. Training should include issues relating to staff safety within a Health and Safety framework and also include volunteers. In a context of personalisation, boards should seek assurances that directly employed staff (e.g. Personal Assistants) have access to training and advice on safeguarding.
Training is a continuing responsibility and should be provided as a rolling programme. Whilst training may be undertaken on a joint basis and the SAB has an overview of the standards and content, it is the responsibility of each organisation to ensure the effective delivery of safeguarding training to its own staff.
Regular face-to-face supervision and reflective practice, from skilled managers is essential to support staff, and to enable staff to work confidently and competently with difficult and sensitive situations.
Rigorous recruitment practices relevant to safeguarding
There are 3 levels of a Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check. Each contains different information and the eligibility for each check is set out in law. They are:
This allows employers to access the criminal record history of people working, or seeking to work, in certain positions, especially those that involve working with children or adults in specific situations. A standard check discloses details of an individual’s convictions, cautions, reprimands and warnings recorded on police systems and includes both ‘spent’ and ‘unspent’ convictions.
This discloses the same information provided on a Standard certificate, together with any local police information that the police believe is relevant and ought to be disclosed.
Enhanced with barred list check
This check includes the same level of disclosure as the enhanced check, plus a check of the appropriate barred lists. An individual may only be checked against the children’s and adults’ barred lists if their job falls within the definition of ‘regulated activity’ with children and/or adults under the Safeguarding Vulnerable Groups Act 2006, as amended by the Protection of Freedoms Act 2012. It should be noted that in ‘signing off’ or agreeing a personal budget or personal health budget a local authority may add conditions such as a DBS check as part of its risk assessment of safeguarding in specific cases. The local authority may also require personal budget holders using Direct Payments to specify whom they are employing to the local authority.
Skills for Care has produced a recruitment and retention toolkit for the adult care and support sector. ‘Finders Keepers’ is designed to help care providers, particularly smaller organisations, to improve the ways they recruit staff and retain them. Internal guidelines for all staff
Provider agencies should produce for their staff a set of internal guidelines which relate clearly to the multiagency policy and which set out the responsibilities of all staff to operate within it. These should include guidance on:
- identifying adults who are particularly at risk
- recognising risk from different sources and in different situations and recognising abusive or neglectful behaviour from other service users, colleagues, and family members
- routes for making a referral and channels of communication within and beyond the agency
- organisational and individual responsibilities for whistleblowing
- assurances of protection for whistle blowers
- working within best practice as specified in contracts
- working within and co-operating with regulatory mechanisms
- working within agreed operational guidelines to maintain best practice in relation to:
- challenging or distressing behaviour
- personal and intimate care
- control and restraint
- gender identity and sexual orientation
- handling of people’s money
- risk assessment and management (read risk guidance for people living with dementia)
Internal guidelines should also explain the rights of staff and how employers will respond where abuse is alleged against them within either a criminal or disciplinary context.
Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) functions
SAB requests for information
In order to carry out its functions, SABs will need access to information that a wide number of people or other organisations may hold.
Some of these may be SAB members, such as the NHS and the police. Others will not be, eg. private health and care providers, housing/housing support providers, or education providers.
SAB may request that someone to supplies information to it or to another person. The person who receives the request must provide the information provided to the SAB if:
- The request is made in order to enable or assist the SAB to do its job.
- The request is made to a person who is likely to have relevant information and then either:
- the information requested relates to the person to whom the request is made and their functions or activities, or
- the information requested has already been supplied to another person subject to an SAB request for information.
Care and Support Statutory Guidance Issued under the Care Act 2014 – Safeguarding Adults Boards
Each local authority must set up a Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB). The main objective of a SAB is to assure itself that local safeguarding arrangements and partners act to help and protect adults in its area who meet the criteria set out at paragraph 14.2.
The SAB has a strategic role that is greater than the sum of the operational duties of the core partners. It oversees and leads adult safeguarding across the locality and will be interested in a range of matters that contribute to the prevention of abuse and neglect. These will include the safety of patients in its local health services, quality of local care and support services, effectiveness of prisons and approved premises in safeguarding offenders and awareness and responsiveness of further education services. It is important that SAB partners feel able to challenge each other and other organisations where it believes that their actions or inactions are increasing the risk of abuse or neglect. This will include commissioners, as well as providers of services.
The SAB can be an important source of advice and assistance, for example in helping others improve their safeguarding mechanisms. It is important that the SAB has effective links with other key partnerships in the locality and share relevant information and work plans. They should consciously cooperate to reduce any duplication and maximise any efficiency, particularly as objectives and membership is likely to overlap.
A SAB has three core duties:
- It must publish a strategic plan for each financial year that sets how it will meet its main objective and what the members will do to achieve this. The plan must be developed with local community involvement, and the SAB must consult the local Healthwatch organisation. The plan should be evidence based and make use of all available evidence and intelligence from partners to form and develop its plan.
- It must publish an annual report detailing what the SAB has done during the year to achieve its main objective and implement its strategic plan, and what each member has done to implement the strategy as well as detailing the findings of any Safeguarding Adults Reviews and subsequent action.
- It must conduct any Safeguarding Adults Review in accordance with Section 44 of the Act.
Safeguarding requires collaboration between partners in order to create a framework of inter-agency arrangements. Local authorities and their relevant partners must collaborate and work together as set out in the co-operation duties in the Care Act and, in doing so, must, where appropriate, also consider the wishes and feelings of the adult on whose behalf they are working.
Local authorities may cooperate with any other body they consider appropriate where it is relevant to their care and support functions. The lead agency with responsibility for coordinating adult safeguarding arrangements is the local authority, but all the members of the SAB should designate a lead officer. Other agencies should also consider the benefits of having a lead for adult safeguarding.
Each Safeguarding Adults Board should:
- identify the role, responsibility, authority and accountability with regard to the action each agency and professional group should take to ensure the protection of adults,
- establish ways of analysing and interrogating data on safeguarding notifications that increase the SAB’s understanding of prevalence of abuse and neglect locally that builds up a picture over time,
- establish how it will hold partners to account and gain assurance of the effectiveness of its arrangements,
- determine its arrangements for peer review and self-audit;
- establish mechanisms for developing policies and strategies for protecting adults which should be formulated, not only in collaboration and consultation with all relevant agencies but also take account of the views of adults who have needs for care and support, their families, advocates and carer representatives,
- develop preventative strategies that aim to reduce instances of abuse and neglect in its area,
- identify types of circumstances giving grounds for concern and when they should be considered as a referral to the local authority as an enquiry,
- formulate guidance about the arrangements for managing adult safeguarding, and dealing with complaints, grievances and professional and administrative malpractice in relation to safeguarding adults,
- develop strategies to deal with the impact of issues of race, ethnicity, religion, gender and gender orientation, sexual orientation, age, disadvantage and disability on abuse and neglect,
- balance the requirements of confidentiality with the consideration that, to protect adults, it may be necessary to share information on a ‘need-to-know basis’,
- identify mechanisms for monitoring and reviewing the implementation and impact of policy and training,
- carry out safeguarding adult reviews,
- produce a Strategic Plan and an Annual Report,
- evidence how SAB members have challenged one another and held other boards to account, and
- promote multi-agency training and consider any specialist training that may be required. Consider any scope to jointly commission some training with other partnerships, such as the Community Safety Partnership.
Strategies for the prevention of abuse and neglect is a core responsibility of a SAB and it should have an overview of how this is taking place in the area and how this work ties in with the Health and Wellbeing Board’s, Quality Surveillance Group’s (QSG), Community Safety Partnership’s and CQC’s stated approach and practice. This could be about commissioners and the regulator, together with providers, acting to address poor quality care and the intelligence that indicates there is risk that care may be deteriorating and becoming abusive or neglectful. It could also be about addressing hate crime or anti-social behaviour in a particular neighbourhood. The SAB will need to have effective links and communication across a number of networks in order to make this work effectively.
Within the context of the duties set out at paragraph 14.2, safeguarding partnerships can be a positive means of addressing issues of self-neglect. The SAB is a multi-agency group that is the appropriate forum where strategic discussions can take place on dealing with what are often complex and challenging situations for practitioners and managers as well as communities more broadly.
Recent research has identified ways of working that can have positive outcomes for those who self-neglect.
Mr M, in his 70s, lives in an upper-floor council flat, and had hoarded over many years: his own possessions, items inherited from his family home, and materials he had collected from skips and building sites in case they came in useful. The material was piled from floor to ceiling in every room, and Mr M lived in a burrow tunnelled through the middle, with no lighting or heating, apart from a gas stove. Finally, after years of hiding in privacy, Mr M had realised that work being carried out on the building would lead to his living conditions being discovered. Mr M himself recounted how hard it had been for him to invite access to his home, how ashamed and scared he was, and how important his hoard was to him, having learnt as a child of the war never to waste anything.
Through working closely together, Mr M, his support worker and experienced contractors have been able gradually to remove from his flat a very large volume of hoarded material and bring improvements to his home environment. It has taken time and patience, courage and faith, and a strong relationship based on trust. The worker has not judged Mr M, and has worked at his pace, positively affirming his progress. Both Mr M and his support worker acknowledge his low self-esteem, and have connected with his doctor and mental health services. The worker has recognised the need to replace what Mr M is giving up, and has encouraged activities that reflect his interests. Mr M has valued the worker’s honesty kindness and sensitivity, his ability to listen, and the respect and reciprocity within their relationship.
Members of a SAB are expected to consider what assistance they can provide in supporting the Board in its work. This might be through payment to the local authority or to a joint fund established by the local authority to provide, for example, secretariat functions for the Board. Members might also support the work of the SAB by providing administrative help, premises for meetings or holding training sessions. It is in all core partners’ interests to have
an effective SAB that is resourced adequately to carry out its functions.
Local SABs decide how they operate but they must ensure that their arrangements will be able to deliver the duties and functions under Schedule 2 of the Care Act.
The arrangements that the SAB needs to create include for example, how often it meets, the appointment of the Chair, any sub-groups to it and other practical arrangements. It also needs to be clear about how it will seek feedback from the local community, particularly those adults who have been involved in a safeguarding enquiry.
Membership of Safeguarding Adults Boards
The information about how the SAB works should be easily accessible to partner organisations and to the general public. The following organisations must be represented on the Board:
- the local authority which set it up,
- the CCGs in the local authority’s area, and
- the chief officer of police in the local authority’s area.
SABs may also include such other organisations and individuals as the establishing local authority considers appropriate having consulted its SAB partners from the CCG and police. The SAB may wish to invite additional partners to some meetings depending on the specific focus or to participate in its work more generally. Examples include:
- ambulance and fire services,
- representatives of providers of health and social care services, including independent providers,
- Department for Work and Pensions;
- representatives of housing providers, housing support providers, probation and prison services,
- General Practitioners,
- representatives of further education colleges,
- members of user, advocacy and carer groups,
- local Healthwatch,
- Care Quality Commission,
- representatives of children’s safeguarding boards; and
- Trading Standards.
This is not a definitive list, but SABs should assure themselves that the Board has the involvement of all partners necessary to effectively carry out its duties. Additionally, there may also be effective links that can be made with related partnerships to maximise impact and minimise duplication and which would reflect the reality and interconnectivities of local partnerships. There are strong synergies between the work of many of these bodies, particularly when looking at a broader family agenda as well as opportunities for efficiencies in
taking forward work. The following example illustrates a safeguarding children’s board and the domestic abuse board work collaboratively to commission and deliver training.
A SAB has worked with the domestic abuse Board to develop a Multi-Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) e-learning package and to commission training in line with the domestic abuse training standards, such as: domestic abuse basic awareness; domestic abuse enhanced awareness; Domestic Abuse, Stalking and Harassment (DASH) and; MARAC awareness.
Partnerships may include:
- Community Safety Partnerships;
- Local Children Safeguarding Boards;
- Health and Wellbeing Boards;
- Quality Surveillance Groups;
- Clinical Commissioning Group Boards; and
- Health Overview and Scrutiny Committees (OSCs).
The local authority which establishes the SAB must ensure that between them, all members of the SAB have the requisite skills and experience necessary for the SAB to act effectively and efficiently to safeguard adults in its area. For example, a social worker’s ability to understand the individual within complex social networks and other systems makes social work input a vital component in SAB arrangements; but the SAB will also require access to medical, nursing and legal expertise. Members who attend in a professional and managerial capacity should be:
- able to present issues clearly in writing and in person,
- experienced in the work of their organisation,
- knowledgeable about the local area and population,
- able to explain their organisation’s priorities,
- able to promote the aims of the SAB,
- able to commit their organisation to agreed actions,
- have a thorough understanding of abuse and neglect and its impact, and
- understand the pressures facing front line practitioners.
Although it is not a requirement, the local authority should consider appointing an independent chair to the SAB who is not an employee or a member of an agency that is a member of the SAB. The Chair has a critical role to lead collaboratively, give advice, support and encouragement but also to offer constructive challenge and hold main partner agencies to account and ensure that interfaces with other strategic functions are effective whilst also acting as a spokesperson for the SAB. An independent chair can provide additional reassurance that the Board has some independence from the local authority and other partners. The Chair will be accountable to the Chief Executive of the local authority as the lead body responsible for establishing the SAB but should be appointed by the local authority in the name of the SAB having consulted all its statutory partners. There is a clear expectation that chairs will keep up to date with, and promote, good practice, developments I case law and research and any other relevant material.
The SAB must develop clear policies and processes that have been agreed with other interested parties, and that reflect the local service arrangements, roles and responsibilities. It will promote multi-agency training that ensures a common understanding of abuse and neglect, appropriate responses and agree how to work together. Policies will state what organisations and individuals are expected to do where they suspect abuse or neglect. The SAB should also consider any specialist training that is required. A key part of the SAB’s role will be to develop preventative strategies and aiming to reduce instances of abuse and neglect in its area. Members of the SAB should also be clear about how they will contribute the financial and human resources of their organisation to both preventing and responding to abuse and neglect.
SAB strategic plans
The SAB must publish its strategic plan each financial year. This plan should address both short and longer-term actions and it must set out how it will help adults in its area and what actions each member of the SAB will take to deliver the strategic plan and protect better. This plan could cover 3-5 years in order to enable the Board to plan ahead as long as it is reviewed and updated annually.
When it is preparing the plan, the SAB must consult the local Healthwatch and involve the local community. The local community has a role to play in the recognition and prevention of abuse and neglect but active and on-going work with the community is needed to tap into this source of support.
SABs must understand the many and potentially different concerns of the various groups that make up its local community. These might include such things as scams targeted at older householders, bullying and harassment of disabled people, hate crime directed at those with mental health problems, cyber bullying and the sexual exploitation of people who may lack the capacity to understand that they have the right to say no. In order to make the plan understood as widely as possible, it should be free from jargon and written in plain English with an easy read version available.
SAB annual reports
After the end of each financial year, the SAB must publish an annual report that must clearly state what both the SAB and its members have done to carry out and deliver the objectives and other content of its strategic plan.
Specifically, the annual report must provide information about any Safeguarding Adults Reviews (SARs) that the SAB has arranged which are ongoing or have reported in the year (regardless whether they commenced in that year). The report must state what the SAB has done to act on the findings of completed SARs or, where it has decided not to act on a finding, why not.
The annual report must set out how the SAB is monitoring progress against its policies and intentions to deliver its strategic plan. The SAB should consider the following in coming to its conclusions:
- evidence of community awareness of adult abuse and neglect and how to respond,
- analysis of safeguarding data to better understand the reasons that lie behind local data returns and use the information to improve the strategic plan and operational arrangements,
- what adults who have experienced the process say and the extent to which the outcomes they wanted (their wishes) have been realised,
- what front line practitioners say about outcomes for adults and about their ability to work in a personalised way with those adults,
- better reporting of abuse and neglect,
- evidence of success of strategies to prevent abuse or neglect,
- feedback from local Healthwatch, adults who use care and support services and carers, community groups, advocates, service providers and other partners,
- how successful adult safeguarding is at linking with other parts of the system, for example children’s safeguarding, domestic violence, community safety,
- the impact of training carried out in this area and analysis of future need, and
- how well agencies are co-operating and collaborating.
Safeguarding forms one of the domains in the Adult Social Care Outcomes Framework (ASCOF). The 2014/15 publication announced the development of a national measure on safeguarding outcomes – one of the first to focus on those who have been through an adult safeguarding enquiry and their views on how the enquiry was dealt with. A set of questions has been developed and cognitively tested in preparation for a pilot survey undertaken by volunteer local authorities in summer 2014. This testing has successfully created a number of questions which can be used in a face to face interview, with confidence by local authorities, to seek the views of adults, or relatives/friends/carers or IMCAs where appropriate. Findings from this work highlighted how pleased adults were to be asked about their experiences. The questionnaires and all survey documentation can be found on the HSCIC’s website.
Using these questions would enable local authorities to better understand the experience of those going through the safeguarding process in their locality but would also facilitate the comparison to other local authorities.
The report is meant to be a document that can be read and understood by anyone. Most SABs are likely to publish these reports on their websites. SABs should consider making the report available in a variety of media. SABs will need to establish ways of publicising the report and actively seeking feedback from communities.
Every SAB must send a copy of its report to:
- the Chief Executive and leader of the local authority,
- the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Chief Constable,
- the local Healthwatch, and
- the Chair of the Health and Wellbeing Board.
It is expected that those organisations will fully consider the contents of the report and how they can improve their contributions to both safeguarding throughout their own organisation and to the joint work of the Board.
Safeguarding adults reviews (SARs)
SABs must arrange a SAR when an adult in its area dies as a result of abuse or neglect, whether known or suspected, and there is concern that partner agencies could have worked more effectively to protect the adult.
SABs must also arrange a SAR if an adult in its area has not died, but the SAB knows or suspects that the adult has experienced serious abuse or neglect. In the context of SARs, something can be considered serious abuse or neglect where, for example the individual would have been likely to have died but for an intervention, or has suffered permanent harm or has reduced capacity or quality of life (whether because of physical or psychological effects) as a result of the abuse or neglect. SABs are free to arrange for a SAR in any other situations involving an adult in its area with needs for care and support.
The SAB should be primarily concerned with weighing up what type of ‘review’ process will promote effective learning and improvement action to prevent future deaths or serious harm occurring again. This may be where a case can provide useful insights into the way organisations are working together to prevent and reduce abuse and neglect of adults. SARs may also be used to explore examples of good practice where this is likely to identify lessons that can be applied to future cases.
At the age of 72 years old, although registered disabled, Ms W was an active member in her community often seen helping at community events and visiting the local shops and swimming pool. Ms W had a fall in her home which left her lacking in confidence and fearful that she would fall again. As the winter approached, Ms W spent more time alone at home only venturing to the corner shop to buy groceries. As time passed her house came in disrepair and unhygienic as local youths began throw rubbish, including dog faeces into her front garden.
Within a five month period Ms W made seven complaints to the police about anti-social behaviour in her local area, and on two occasions was the victim of criminal damage to the front of her house, where her wheelchair accessibility ramp has been painted by graffiti. The police made a referral to social services. As a result, Ms W was placed on a waiting list for a support service.
Four weeks after she was last seen Ms W committed suicide. A Serious Case Review (SCR) was convened according to the local policy that stated ‘the purpose of an SCR is not to reinvestigate or to apportion blame, but to establish whether there are lessons to be learnt from the circumstances of the case about the way in which local professionals and agencies work together to safeguard vulnerable adults. The published report and recommendations which followed demonstrated the lessons from this case. The resultant action plan included:
· Strengthened relationships and information sharing between police officers, health and the local authority.
· Clear lines of reporting and joint working arrangements with the Community Safety Partnerships.
· A robust multi-agency training plan.
· A targeted community programme to address anti-social behaviour.
· The development of a ‘People’s Panel’ as a sub group to the Safeguarding Adults Board which includes people who access services, carers and voluntary groups.
· The development of a ‘stay safe’ programme involving local shops where adults at risk of abuse may report their concerns to a trusted member if their community.
Early discussions need to take place with the adult, family and friends to agree how they wish to be involved. The adult who is the subject of any SAR need not have been in receipt of care and support services for the SAB to arrange a review in relation to them.
SARs should reflect the six safeguarding principles. SABs should agree Terms of Reference for any SAR they arrange and these should be published and openly available. When undertaking SARs the records should either be anonymised through redaction or consent should be sought.
The following principles should be applied by SABs and their partner organisations to all reviews:
- there should be a culture of continuous learning and improvement across the organisations that work together to safeguard and promote the wellbeing and empowerment of adults, identifying opportunities to draw on what works and promote good practice,
- the approach taken to reviews should be proportionate according to the scale and level of complexity of the issues being examined,
- reviews of serious cases should be led by individuals who are independent of the case under review and of the organisations whose actions are being reviewed,
- professionals should be involved fully in reviews and invited to contribute their perspectives without fear of being blamed for actions they took in good faith, and
- families should be invited to contribute to reviews. They should understand how they are going to be involved and their expectations should be managed appropriately and sensitively.
SARs should seek to determine what the relevant agencies and individuals involved in the case might have done differently that could have prevented harm or death. This is so that lessons can be learned from the case and those lessons applied to future cases to prevent similar harm occurring again. Its purpose is not to hold any individual or organisation to account. Other processes exist for that, including criminal proceedings, disciplinary procedures, employment law and systems of service and professional regulation, such as CQC and the Nursing and Midwifery Council, the Health and Care Professions Council, and the General Medical Council.
It is vital, if individuals and organisations are to be able to learn lessons from the past, that reviews are trusted and safe experiences that encourage honesty, transparency and sharing of information to obtain maximum benefit from them. If individuals and their organisations are fearful of SARs their response will be defensive and their participation guarded and partial.
The process for undertaking SARs should be determined locally according to the specific circumstances of individual circumstances. No one model will be applicable for all cases. The focus must be on what needs to happen to achieve understanding, remedial action and, very often, answers for families and friends of adults who have died or been seriously abused or neglected. The recommendations and action plans from a SAR need to be followed through by the SAB.
The SAB should ensure that there is appropriate involvement in the review process of professionals and organisations who were involved with the adult. The SAR should also communicate with the adult and, or, their family. In some cases it may be helpful to communicate with the person who caused the abuse or neglect.
It is expected that those undertaking a SAR will have appropriate skills and experience which should include:
- strong leadership and ability to motivate others,
- expert facilitation skills and ability to handle multiple perspectives and potentially sensitive and complex group dynamics,
- collaborative problem solving experience and knowledge of participative approaches,
- good analytic skills and ability to manage qualitative data,
- safeguarding knowledge,
- inclined to promote an open, reflective learning culture.
The SAB should aim for completion of a SAR within a reasonable period of time and in any event within six months of initiating it, unless there are good reasons for a longer period being required; for example, because of potential prejudice to related court proceedings. Every effort should be made while the SAR is in progress to capture points from the case about improvements needed; and to take corrective action.
Links with other reviews
When victims of domestic homicide are aged between 16 and 18, there are separate requirements in statutory guidance for both a child Serious Case Review (SCR) and a Domestic Homicide Review (DHR). Where such reviews may be relevant to SAR (eg. because they concern the same perpetrator), consideration should be given to how SARs, DHRs and SCRs can be managed in parallel in the most effective manner possible so that organisations and professionals can learn from the case. For example, considering whether some aspects of the reviews can be commissioned jointly so as to reduce duplication of work for the organisations involved.
In setting up a SAR the SAB should also consider how the process can dovetail with any other relevant investigations that are running parallel, such as a child SCR or DHR, a criminal investigation or an inquest.
It may be helpful when running a SAR and DHR or child SCR in parallel to establish at the outset all the relevant areas that need to be addressed, to reduce potential for duplication for families and staff. Any SAR will need to take account of a coroner‘s inquiry, and, or, any criminal investigation related to the case, including disclosure issues, to ensure that relevant information can be shared without incurring significant delay in the review process. It will be the responsibility of the manager of the SAR to ensure contact is made with the Chair of any parallel process in order to minimise avoidable duplication.
Findings from SARs
The SAB should include the findings from any SAR in its Annual Report and what actions it has taken, or intends to take in relation to those findings. Where the SAB decides not to implement an action then it must state the reason for that decision in the Annual Report. All documentation the SAB receives from registered providers which is relevant to CQC’s regulatory functions will be given to the CQC on CQC’s request.
SAR reports should:
- provide a sound analysis of what happened, why and what action needs to be taken to prevent a reoccurrence, if possible,
- be written in plain English, and
- contain findings of practical value to organisations and professionals.