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1.5 Roles and Responsibilities

The Local Authority’s responsibilities under the Care Act 2014

Local authorities must make enquiries, or cause others to do so, if they reasonably suspect an adult who meets the criteria at paragraph 14.2 is, or is at risk of, being abused or neglected.

An enquiry is the action taken or instigated by the local authority in response to a concern that abuse or neglect may be taking place. An enquiry could range from a conversation with the adult, or if they lack capacity or have substantial difficulty in understanding the enquiry, their representative or advocate prior to initiating a formal enquiry under section 42, right through to a more formal multi-agency plan or course of action. Whatever the course of subsequent action, the professional concerned should record the concern, the adult’s views, wishes, and any immediate action taken and the reasons for those actions.

The purpose of the enquiry is to decide whether or not the local authority or another organisation, or person, should do something to support and protect the adult. If the local authority decides that another organisation should make the enquiry, for example a care provider, then the local authority should be clear about timescales, the requirement to be informed of the outcome of the enquiry, and what action will follow if this is not done.

The outcome of an enquiry should reflect the adult‘s wishes wherever possible, as stated by them or by their representative or advocate. If they lack capacity it should be in their best interest, and be proportionate to the level of concern or risk.

The adult should always be involved at the earliest appropriate opportunity in the enquiry, unless there are exceptional circumstances that would increase the risk of abuse. If the adult has substantial difficulty in being involved, and where there is no one appropriate to support them, then the local authority must arrange for an independent advocate to represent them for the purpose of facilitating their involvement.

Those undertaking enquiries require appropriate sensitivity and skill to ensure minimal distress to the adult. Personal and family relationships within community settings can prove both difficult to assess and complex regarding intervention. The dynamics of personal relationships can be challenging to judge and rebalance. For example, an adult may make a choice to remain in a relationship that causes them emotional distress or financial harm, if they prefer to prioritise maintaining the relationship.

Whilst work with the adult may frequently require the input of a social worker, other aspects of enquiries may be best undertaken by others with more appropriate skills and knowledge. For example healthcare professionals for clinical evaluation and input.

Local authorities may cooperate with any other body they consider appropriate where it is relevant to their care and support functions. Whilst they are the lead agency with responsibility for coordinating adult safeguarding arrangements, 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

The Local Authority’s role in establishing a Safeguarding Adults Board

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.

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.

The SAB should 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.