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2.4 Adult Safeguarding Enquiry Guidance

Planning Next Steps (Strategy Discussion or Meeting)

Prior to undertaking safeguarding enquiries planning next steps (Strategy Discussion or Meeting) can be held the option of teleconferencing can aid the process. The purpose of the strategy discussion or meeting is to plan the enquiry. Where the safeguarding concern involves a potential criminal offence, the police must be involved in the strategy discussion or meeting.

Where a decision has been made by the Local Authority that a Care Act section 42 safeguarding enquiry is required, a strategy discussion or meeting should be held within seven working days.

Strategy discussions are helpful where the issues are straightforward or where there is a need to act quickly in an urgent situation, the planning can take place over the telephone. A record should be made of the discussion, and actions agreed, shared and recorded. Alternatively, a strategy meeting is a multi-agency forum, chaired by an appropriately skilled person. Attendance at the meeting is considered in advance by the agency undertaking the enquiry.

The adult or their representative can contribute or be present at the meeting, however care should be taken not to disclose information about the person (s) alleged responsible for abuse.

A strategy meeting should consider the following:

  • Details of the allegation and information gathered;
  • The views, wishes and desired outcomes of the adult in relation to the allegation (see Values and Principles: Making Safeguarding Personal);
  • How does the adult wish to be involved?
  • The mental capacity of the adult to make decisions about their care and safety (if known).

Consider the safety of the adult whilst enquiries are made:

  • Is the person currently safe?
  • Is there a need for immediate action to support and safeguard the person(s)?
  • Is the abuse likely to reoccur?

Are others at risk?

  • Will the enquiry threaten the safety of others?
  • Where is the best location/environment to undertake enquiries?
  • Who will support the adult after the enquiry?
  • Who is going to lead and coordinate the enquiries?
  • Are criminal proceedings a possible outcome?
  • Is there a need for a formal interview to take place under the direction of the police?

How can information about the adult and the alleged incident(s) best be gathered?

  • Who should be interviewed? Is there a need for co-ordinated interviews to avoid repeat interviewing?
  • Is an assessment needed concerning the adult’s mental capacity in regard to this situation? If so, who will arrange it and who will carry it out?
  • Who will be responsible for carrying out which actions and when?
  • Who will take responsibility for keeping the adult, person or agency who raised the concerns, and family, carers informed of events?
  • How and to what degree can the adult’s family or carers be informed and/or involved?
  • When, how and by whom is the person alleged to be responsible be informed about the allegations?
  • Is the person alleged to be responsible for abuse in need of care and support?
  • Is the person alleged to be responsible for abuse working in a position of trust? (see Allegations Against Persons in a Position of Trust).

The Chair will conclude by summarising the plan, roles and responsibilities, and agree a date and time for the next meeting. Meetings must be minuted and circulated within seven working days.

Responsibilities of staff making enquiries

Staff who are asked to participate in an enquiry, should have an understanding of the Care Act 2014 safeguarding duties, Plymouth’s Adult Safeguarding Framework (see Adult Safeguarding Framework Explained) and related multi-agency safeguarding procedures, and be supported by their manager to do so.

They should ensure they understand what they are being asked to do. If not clarify with their manager.

Carry out actions from the strategy discussion or meeting, these may include:

  • What information they might need to find out;
  • Who might have this information?
  • What legal powers do they have or need?
  • What documentation will they need to see?
  • What support will the adult require prior and during an interview?

Evaluating the evidence obtained, with the support of their manager and other agencies involved in the enquiry. It may include; medical or forensic evidence, background reports, daily records and witness statements.

During an enquiry it may be necessary for staff to attend additional strategy meetings which are held to consider what information has been collected and plan any further enquiries.

On Conclusion of the Enquiry it may be useful to convene a Case Conference involving the person, their carer or advocate, others who may be able to ensure that the outcomes (MSP) set out initially by the adult were achieved, and that those involved in the ongoing Safeguarding Plan are engaged. This will entail joint discussion, decision making and planning with the adult for their future safety and well-being. This applies if it is concluded that the allegation is true or otherwise, as many enquiries may be inconclusive. The Local Authority must determine what further action is necessary, and ensure that it is carried out. The decision of whether to hold a Case Conference to consider outcomes should be taken by those undertaking enquiries, their managers and commissioning representatives in conjunction with the person, their carer or advocate.

At the conclusion, the following actions are required:

  • The stated wishes and desired outcomes of the adult (Making Safeguarding Personal), their representative or advocate are achieved and explained;
  • Develop an ongoing Safeguarding Plan in partnership with the person, including agreed multi-agency arrangements for monitoring and timescales for review;
  • There must be a clear recording of the conclusion of the enquiry detailing the evidence to support the findings;
  • Any actions for Commissioners and/or the Quality Assurance and Improvement Team (QAIT) need to be clearly recorded and feedback given to the Provider involved;
  • The person alleged responsible for abuse should receive feedback at the conclusion of the enquiry and likely further actions (The most appropriate agency to communicate this feedback should be agreed. This may be the worker undertaking the enquiry, the Local Authority, the police or the person’s employer);
  • It must be considered whether the Local Authority as lead agency will ensure Disclosure and Barring Service and Professional body (e.g. NMC, HCPC) referrals are made where appropriate;
  • Ensure the person or agency who raised the concern receives appropriate feedback.

The agency responsible for the safeguarding enquiry is required to report its findings to the Local Authority as lead agency. The Local Authority will consider the findings and outcomes, request clarification or agree closure or other action.

Where the local authority has received the outcome of the enquiries and agreed closure it may consider or recommended other actions i.e. Care Act 2014 Section 9 (Assessment).

Conclusion of Outcomes (Case Conference)

A Case Conference process can be used to conclude and feedback the findings of the safeguarding enquiry. This maybe a multi-agency meeting where the adult and their carer or advocate are engaged and present to discuss findings and participate in the development of the Safeguarding Plan where required. If the person does not have capacity to consent to the Safeguarding Plan, a plan agreed in their Best Interest in conjunction with an Advocate, family members and others as appropriate.

If the adult does not feel able to attend the Case Conference, alternative plans must be made such as asking for their representative / Advocate to attend on their behalf and present their views and wishes. Alternatively a bespoke arrangement may be convened, using the accessible communication methods where required, people the person wishes to be present and in an environment of choice, this may be their home or other community setting.

Case Conferences will normally be held within 28 working days following enquiry. However this may depend upon timescales agreed at the Strategy Discussion or Meeting, and the circumstances of the concern.

The Case Conference should be chaired by an appropriate person with the required level of skill, experience and impartiality to lead the meeting. A set of minutes must be taken at the Case Conference with actions clearly recorded for future reference.

Conclusion of Outcomes (Case Conference Review)

The purpose of the Review is to check the agreed actions set out in the Safeguarding Plans have been achieved and/or if further action is needed.

At the conclusion of an enquiry, or at a Case Conference, a decision should be made regarding whether the ongoing Safeguarding Plan should be reviewed within the Adult Safeguarding Framework (see Adult Safeguarding Framework Explained). This should be the case whenever there is ongoing risk of abuse. The frequency of the review should be decided based on the situation and level of risk. A review can be convened earlier than planned if there are unanticipated events which increase the risk or indicate a need to change the Safeguarding Plan. If there is a new safeguarding concern raised, this should follow the safeguarding policy framework set out in the procedures.

The person, their family or advocate are to be involved, representatives of agencies involved in the original enquiry, those involved in the person’s care and support. Commissioning Officers are involved where appropriate.

Following the review, the Safeguarding Plan should be amended as necessary making clear responsibilities of all parties with timescales for action.

The review process may continue until all actions have been completed and the risk has been reduced or removed.

On conclusion of the Case Conference review meeting if appropriate arrangements should be made for the person’s Safeguarding Plan to form part of their ongoing Care & Support Plan with related reviews.