2.2 Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP)
What is Making Safeguarding Personal?
Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP) is the approach now taken to all safeguarding work. The key principle of MSP is to support and empower each adult to make choices and have control about how they want to live their own life. It is a shift in culture and practice in response to what is now known about what makes safeguarding more or less effective from the perspective of the adult being safeguarded.
MSP is about having conversations with people about how responses to safeguarding situations can be made in a way that enhances their involvement, choice and control as well as improving their quality of life, well-being and safety. It is about seeing people as experts in their own lives, and working alongside them to identify the outcomes they want.
MSP focuses on achieving meaningful improvements to people’s lives to prevent abuse and neglect occurring in the future, including ways for them to protect themselves. People are individuals with a variety of different preferences, histories, circumstances and life-styles; so safeguarding arrangements should not prescribe a process that must be followed whenever a concern is raised, but instead take a more personalised approach. The case study below helps to put this in context.
Case study 1
Two brothers with mild learning disabilities lived in their family home, where they had remained following the death of their parents some time previously. Large amounts of rubbish had accumulated both in the garden and inside the house, with cleanliness and self-neglect also an issue. They had been targeted by fraudsters, resulting in a criminal investigation and conviction of those responsible, but the brothers had refused subsequent services from Adult Social Care and their case had been closed.
They had, however, had a good relationship with their social worker, and as concerns about their health and well-being continued, it was decided that the social worker would maintain contact, calling in every couple of weeks to see how they were, and offer any help needed, on their terms. After almost a year, through the gradual building of trust and understanding, the brothers asked to be considered for supported housing. With the social worker’s help they improved the state of their house enough to sell it, and moved to a living environment in which practical support could be provided.
What a Making Safeguarding Personal approach should include
Conversations which should happen with the adult, at the earliest opportunity, enabling them to identify realistic outcomes so that their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs are central in decisions about how they wish to proceed.
Often the most effective way to manage risk and enable positive risk-taking is to work closely with the individual in their own context in order to negotiate the risk enablement and safeguarding that is appropriate for that particular individual. Having honest discussions with people about the possible options and the risk and benefits of each option, can result in more focused risk enablement.
The very process of engaging with individuals can often give them a sense of control and self-esteem that enables them to better safeguard themselves. Their wishes should only be overridden if considered necessary in the interests of their own safety or the safety of others.
A flexible approach is required because people are all individuals and want a range of differing options in response to their own lives and experience.
Each adult needs to be supported to explore the choices and responses that they may want during an enquiry (which may change from their initial wishes as the enquiry proceeds).
Some people have no wish for any formal proceedings to be pursued and may be distressed when this happens without their knowledge or agreement. In complex domestic circumstances, it may take the adult some time to gain the confidence and self-esteem to protect themselves and take action.
Whilst most people do want to be safer, other outcomes may be as, or more, important such as maintaining relationships. Safeguarding must respect the autonomy and independence of individuals as well as their right to family life (Article 8 European a Convention of Human Rights). In some circumstances it may be necessary to override a person’s wishes, however this may only occur if it is lawful to do so.
Keeping the adult informed The adult needs to be kept informed through regular discussion about the factors which may have contributed to abuse and neglect occurring and of relevant information as the enquiry proceeds.
Some individuals may want access to some form of justice or resolution, such as through criminal or civil law, restorative justice, or through knowing that some form of disciplinary or other action has been taken. They may feel disappointed or let down if this does not happen.
The adult should be supported to understand the options open to them during an enquiry. Other approaches that might help to promote their well-being include therapeutic or family work, mediation and conflict resolution, peer or circles of support.
Undertaking a review At the end of an enquiry it is an expectation that the responsible worker will undertake a review with the adult to see what difference the safeguarding process has made to their life, and whether the outcomes they hoped for have been achieved. Support and measures to restore and enhance their resilience to future risks of abuse and neglect should also be considered and promoted.
Mental capacity MSP is not only for people who have mental capacity. It is just as important for people who lack capacity, and some engagement is very often still possible to identify outcomes. Identifying representatives, independent mental capacity advocates (IMCA) and other advocates or Best Interests Assessors, where relevant, is a key part of working with people to enable their voice to be heard.
Case study 2
Ann was able to express and achieve her own specified outcome in relation to an enquiry about alleged financial abuse.
Ann had been diagnosed with early onset dementia and her carers had raised concerns that she was being financially abused by Nina, a long-standing friend.
Ann was known to be generous with money to people in the community who she would befriend. She was clear she wanted to remain friends and remain in close contact with Nina. An Independent Mental Capacity Advocate supported Ann throughout the enquiry as she lacked capacity to manage her finances overall. Time was also spent with Nina to raise her awareness of Ann’s limitations and understanding regarding finances.
Safeguards were subsequently put in place for Ann’s money, but importantly she was able to keep her friendship and contact with Nina as had been her desired outcome at the start of the enquiry.
What are outcomes?
Outcomes should be defined by each individual and recorded in their own words. Examples of the kind of outcomes that people might want are:
- To be and to feel safer.
- To maintain a key relationship.
- To make new friends.
- To have help to recover.
- To have access to justice or an apology or to know that disciplinary or other action has been taken.
- To know that this won’t happen to anyone else.
- To maintain control over the situation.
- To be involved in making decisions
- To have exercised choice.
- To be able to protect themselves in future.
- To know where to get help.
This is not an exhaustive list. Wherever possible, it is better to capture an individual’s outcomes in their own words: “I want to feel safe in my own home again”.
Personalised outcomes are not conclusions to processes or service responses such as “The person is receiving increased monitoring or care”.
Will people want realistic outcomes?
People, by and large, express realistic outcomes. Sometimes longer discussions may be needed, and this tends to be because, for example:
- An adult may want more than one outcome and achieving both may be difficult. Sometimes outcomes are mutually exclusive; therefore, negotiation and thinking about ‘plan A’ or ‘plan B’ might be necessary.
- An adult may not want to proceed with a safeguarding enquiry, but there may be a risk to other people. Therefore, an open discussion with the adult will be needed, which takes into account the adult’s views, wishes, feelings and beliefs.
- An adult may need support in understanding the risk and in weighing up this against other factors.
- An adult may want something unrealistic or impossible to achieve. This is an opportunity and a starting point for discussion, and sometimes might mean that conversations focus on getting others involved for example, the police, early on.
- An adult and key family members or friends may want two different things, in which case some negotiation and further supported discussion with the adult and other parties may be needed.