In the June edition of Bevan Brittan's Healthline we considered the legislative reforms introduced by the Care Act 2014 (the Care Act) in relation to wellbeing, safeguarding vulnerable adults and funding. This article considers the practical implications of the legislative reforms in relation to safeguarding vulnerable adults. The Care Act recognises and reinforces that in addition to Local Authorities, other organisations make a significant contribution to adult safeguarding and accordingly will be held more accountable for their actions.
The Care Act introduces statutory duties on Local Authorities and other organisations with regard to adult safeguarding. The Care Act introduces six principles of safeguarding which organisations should be guided by. These principles are set out in our previous article entitled: 'The Care Act – Promoting Well Being, Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults and Funding'.
Key responsibility is with Local Authorities to set up a Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) with core membership from the Local Authority in partnership with the Police and the NHS (specifically the local Clinical Commissioning Group/s) and the power to include other relevant bodies. One of the core duties of the SAB is to conduct Safeguarding Adult Reviews.
The Care Act updates the scope of adult safeguarding, stipulating that Local Authorities must follow up any concerns about either suspected or actual abuse of an adult regardless of whether or not the adult is ordinarily resident in its area and/or regardless of whether or not the Local Authority is providing any services for the adult in question.
It is important that there is clear guidance in place for staff to identify when concerns should be raised and that the policies and procedures in place are clear, are in accordance with the statutory guidance and that staff are trained.
Designated Adult Safeguarding Managers
The statutory guidance introduces a new role of Designated Adult Safeguarding Managers (DASMs) in organisations which are members of SAB.
The DASM will be responsible for the management and the overseeing of individual complex cases and coordination where allegations are made. They should provide advice and guidance within their organisation and liaise with other agencies.
Supply of Information
The Sharing of information related to abuse or neglect rests with SABs. The Care Act is clear that if an SAB requests information from an organisation or individual they must share what they know with the SAB.
This should be incorporated into policies and procedures and staff should, in particular, be given guidance about how to deal with this issue where previously there may have been reluctance to share information due to issues of confidentiality.
Key Actions for Care Providers & Commissioners
For all organisations involved in the provision of care -
- Ensure that you are familiar with local multi-disciplinary safeguarding procedures.
- If the organisation is a member of SAB, you must have a Designated Adult Safeguarding Manager and ensure that staff are aware of who is fulfilling this role and how they will be contacted.
- Review policies and procedures to ensure that they reflect the current statutory guidance and implement new policies or procedures where necessary.
- Identify further training requirements for members of staff.
- Obtain and review a copy of the Safeguarding Plan for the Local Authority in which you operate – Local Authorities are required to produce this under the Care Act and to review it annually.
For Commissioners of care –
- Ensure that provision is in place during contract monitoring that specifically identifies concerns about safeguarding standards.
- Ensure that contracts, service level agreements and local multi-agency safeguarding policies and procedures are being adhered to and that there are processes to monitor this.
It is therefore important to consider the Care Act and key actions which may be required as a result of this legislation.