3.4 Checklist for completed enquiries
A Section 42 enquiry can be concluded when the local authority is satisfied that the following has taken place:
- Where a safeguarding plan is in place, it is in line with the desired outcomes of the adult, this includes enabling the adult to live with risk if they choose to do so. The safeguarding plan should include monitoring arrangements to support the adult such as arrangements for communication and information sharing, particularly where a number of agencies or support networks may be involved.
- The enquiry has included the views, wishes and best interests of the adult, and has been centred on their desired outcomes.
- The person or organisation thought to be the cause of risk has had an opportunity to give their views, and respond to the concern.
- Relevant information has been gathered and evaluated to support or discount the concern so that the cause of risk can be identified to prevent future abuse where possible.
- The enquiry has been thoroughly completed including identifying the category of suspected abuse.
- Communication has been established with commissioners that have responsibilities towards the adult. Where the service provider is the focus of the concern, the Enquiry Manager has advised the commissioner or contract teams and the Care Quality Commission.
- Information has been shared, where appropriate and as necessary, including any wider actions that are recommended. Where required, a safeguarding plan is in place with arrangements for monitoring and review of this.
- Where there has been serious injury to or the death of an adult, a safeguarding adults review was considered.
- Any recommended further actions, including referrals to professional bodies such as the Disclosure and Barring Service, have been addressed.
- Arrangements are in place to ensure that the individual, their representative or any other person or organisation thought to be the source of risk receives individual feedback regarding the findings of the enquiry.
This checklist should also be used by any agency or organisation the local authority has asked to undertake an enquiry under Section 42, to consider if it has concluded its enquiry appropriately, and has covered all the areas required in order to discharge its duty.
Safeguarding plans once facts are established
Once the facts have been established, a further discussion of the needs and wishes of the adult is likely to take place. This could be focused safeguarding planning to enable the adult to achieve resolution or recovery, or fuller assessments by health and social care agencies (eg. a needs assessment under the Care Act).
This will entail joint discussion, decision making and planning with the adult for their future safety and well-being.
The local authority’s duty to determine any further action
The local authority must decide what further action is necessary.
Where the local authority decides that it should take further action itself (eg. a protection plan), then the authority would be under a duty to do so.
The adult’s right to make choices
The Mental Capacity Act (MCA) is clear that local authorities must presume that an adult has the capacity to make a decision until there is a reason to suspect that their capacity is in some way compromised. Therefore, the adult is best placed to make choices about their well-being, and this may involve taking certain risks.
Where the adult may lack capacity to make decisions about enquiries or managing an abusive situation, then their capacity must always be assessed and any decision made in their best interests.
Where the adult declines assistance
If the adult has the capacity to make decisions in relation to a safeguarding concern and declines assistance, this can limit the intervention that organisations can make. The focus should therefore be on harm reduction. It should not however limit the action that may be required to protect others who are at risk of harm.
The potential for ‘undue influence’ will need to be considered. If the adult is thought to be refusing intervention on the grounds of duress then action must be taken.
Assessing the impact of any duress the adult may be experiencing
In order to ensure the adult is able to make sound decisions, they will need to be assessed in relation to:
- Their emotional, physical and intellectual well-being.
- Mental capacity in relation to self-determination and consent.
- Any intimidation, misuse of authority or undue influence.
Taking actions to protect the adult
Where the actions required to protect the adult can be met by the local authority, they should take appropriate action. In some cases, safeguarding enquiries may result in:
- The provision of care and support (under either Section 18 or 19 of the Care Act).
- The provision of preventative services (under Section 2).
- Information and advice (under Section 4).
In the majority of cases, the response will involve other agencies, for example, a safeguarding enquiry may result in a referral to the police, a change of accommodation, or action by CQC.
Where information relates to the quality of care and support services this should be passed to the services responsible for this (see: Responses to concerns relating to the quality of care and support services).
Whatever the course of action, the professional responsible should record the concern, the adult’s views and wishes, any immediate action taken and the reasons for those actions.
Assessments of need running parallel to enquiries
Where the adult has care and support needs, the local authority must carry out a needs assessment and determine whether they have eligible needs and, if so, how these will be met.
The assessment for care and support should run parallel to the safeguarding enquiry, and the enquiry should not disrupt the assessment process or the local authority meeting eligible needs.
Considerations in relation to safeguarding plans
Where an adult lacks capacity to make decisions about their safeguarding plan, then a range of options should be identified and a best interest decision made, in accordance with the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act, which help the adult stay in control of their life as much as possible.
Wherever possible, the adult should be supported to recognise risks and to manage them. Safeguarding plans should empower the adult as far as possible to make choices and to develop their capability to respond to risks.
Co-ordinating responses and actions effectively
An enquiry may require actions to be undertaken by a number of different individuals, practitioners or organisations that can only be effectively co-ordinated through multi-agency discussions or meetings.
Where conversations or meetings are required to take forward actions agreed with the adult, it will not always be necessary for the adult or their representative to be involved in these discussions, and indeed they may not wish to be involved in all of these.
Where an adult is not involved in a discussion or meeting
A Making Safeguarding Personal approach recommends that an adult should always be involved at every step of the way including in all conversations and meetings. The adult or their representative should always be asked if they wish to attend.
Not all meetings or conversations that are needed to ensure actions are taken forward may necessarily require the adult or their representative to be involved, and they may not wish to be involved in all, or in some cases, any of these.
Where discussions and meetings take place, staff involved in them should always consider whether the adult or their representative should be included, or how feedback will be provided if it is not feasible for them to attend.
If the subject matter discussed does not directly affect the adult or their representative, it will not be necessary or appropriate for them to attend. For example, a planning meeting led by the commissioners of a service to discuss the approach to supporting the service regarding concerns about its quality.
Ensuring processes are empowering for adults or their representatives
It is important that the adult or their representative’s experience of the safeguarding process is as empowering and positive as possible.
Safeguarding meetings may be the best way to ensure effective co-ordination of different aspects of an enquiry that directly relate to the adult or decisions that affect them. They can be a positive experience for the adult or their representative, giving them an opportunity to have a discussion with all the relevant practitioners and organisations that have an impact on their situation, and to ensure the outcomes they want and do not want are clearly understood.
However, safeguarding meetings can also create disempowering and intimidating situations for adults or their representatives that can lead to negative experiences that run counter to the aims and ethos of safeguarding work.
All practitioners involved in the enquiry process need to be very aware of this, and to ensure the approach taken avoids creating negative experiences for the adult and is as empowering as possible.
Any discussion regarding issues or decisions that affect the adult personally must always include them. The adult or their representative must always be invited to take part in discussions and meetings that relate directly to information or decisions about them.
Where safeguarding meetings are needed these should be as person-centred as possible and should always include the adult or their representative where any of the issues discussed directly affects them.
Tape recordings of safeguarding meetings
It is not usual practice to tape record meetings.
Notes of meetings are a reflection of key points, decisions and actions rather than a verbatim account. Notes of the meeting will be provided to all attendees with the opportunity to provide corrections for accuracy following the meeting.
Taping a meeting can create a potentially inhibiting atmosphere that may not lead to the best outcome for the individuals involved or affected. In rare exceptions, if none of the attendees object to a tape recording taking place, the local authority will retain the tape or CD and be responsible for ensuring the tape is transcribed. Copies of the transcription will be given to all attendees.
If the adult, their representative or another interested party wishes to have a legal representative at a safeguarding meeting, the chair of the meeting should be advised of this in advance.
Any legal representative asked to attend by any other attendee, should be advised before the meeting by the Enquiry Manager or Enquiry Officer, and by the chair before the meeting begins, that they are welcome to attend in the role of a ‘silent supporter’ ie. they are attending as a support and are not able to actively participate or comment during the meeting. If the attendee who has requested that a solicitor accompany them is not agreeable to this condition, advice should be sought by the chair of the meeting from the local authority’s legal services and / or the meeting should be adjourned.
Discussions and meetings not directly related to the adult
If safeguarding meetings are required to co-ordinate work or actions and it may not be necessary or appropriate for the adult or their representative to attend, for example due to Data Protection issues where information regarding other named individuals may be involved, this should always be explained.
The adult should be provided with appropriate feedback regarding any aspects that may indirectly affect them, and be given a copy of the relevant section of any notes that may indirectly relate to them.
Discussions or meetings with a co-ordinating function not related to decisions about the adult
Where discussions or meetings take place that are of a more general nature, the adult or their representative should be advised of these and records of action agreed or notes of the discussion or meeting should be made available to them should they wish to have copies.
Safeguarding discussions and planning meetings
The adult should always be involved in discussions or meetings related to concerns and decisions that affect them.
Discussions should take place regularly with the adult or their representative to:
- Ensure they are aware of the progress of the enquiry.
- Check if their views and the outcomes they want to achieve from the process remain the same.
- Ensure that actions needed are reviewed and agreed with them as the enquiry progresses.
This should be a regular and ongoing process.
Such conversations or meetings should be facilitated or led by the Enquiry Manager. Consideration should be given to how these conversations or meetings can be held in the most person-centred and empowering way, taking account of the adult’s individual needs and situation including:
- Meeting at the adult’s home or in person wherever possible, if they are in agreement with this.
- Communication issues including the need for interpreters, signers, other equipment, support and advocacy, and clear information provided in accessible formats.
- How notes of conversations and meetings will be recorded and copies provided for the adult, and where these will be kept, particularly if there may be risks associated with this.
- How safeguarding plans will be included in or linked with the adult’s support plan.
- How information sharing and confidentiality will be addressed including managing information that relates to other individuals, and who needs to be involved and have what information.
- How other actions will be taken forward, managed and fed back to the adult. For example, where this relates to quality of support or care services, police investigations, disciplinary processes etc.
Responsibilities towards the person or service thought to be the cause of risk
When a complaint or allegation has been made against a member of staff, including people employed by the adult, they should be made aware of their rights under employment legislation and any internal disciplinary procedures by their employer.
The Designated Adult Safeguarding Manager (DASM) for the employing organisation (where one is in place) and the local authority must always be contacted in these situations.
Where the person thought to be the cause of risk is an adult with care and support needs
Where the person who is alleged to have carried out the abuse has care and support needs themselves and is unable to understand the significance of questions put to them or their replies, they should be informed of their right to the support of an ‘appropriate’ adult if they are questioned in relation to a suspected crime by the police under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE).
Victims of crime and witnesses may also require support.
Under the Mental Capacity Act, people who lack capacity who are alleged to be responsible for abuse are entitled to the help of an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) to support and represent them in the enquiries that are taking place. This is separate from the decision of whether or not to provide the victim of abuse with an independent advocate under the Care Act.
Involving people thought to be the cause of risk in the enquiry process
If the person thought to be the cause of risk is an adult covered by the Care Act, consideration should be given to how their involvement in the enquiry process can be approached in the most person-centred and empowering way, taking account of their individual needs and situation.