On the 16th May 2011, the Department of Health published Statement of Government Policy on Adult Safeguarding.
For the avoidance of any doubt, it is made clear that No secrets: guidance on developing and implementing multi-agency policies and procedures to protect vulnerable adults from abusewill remain as statutory guidance “until at least 2013”.
Meanwhile, however, local authorities are encouraged to “benchmark” and develop existing adult safeguarding arrangements taking into account Statement of Government Policy on Adult Safeguarding.
The idea is that local authorities and multi-agency partnerships will develop local solutions reflecting local demographics and environmental characteristics, aimed at locally agreed outcomes based on the following principles:
- Empowerment - Presumption of person led decisions and informed consent.
- Protection - Support and representation for those in greatest need.
- Prevention - It is better to take action before harm occurs.
- Proportionality – Proportionate and least intrusive response appropriate to the risk presented.
- Partnership - Local solutions through services working with their communities. Communities have a part to play in preventing, detecting and reporting neglect and abuse.
- Accountability - Accountability and transparency in delivering safeguarding.
Accordingly, this may be an appropriate time for social services authorities and other local agencies to review their procedures for protecting vulnerable adults. It is a lot to ask of hard-stretched local authorities. On the other hand, at a time of widespread changes to the ways in which adult social care is delivered, together with budgetary constraints on authorities and financial difficulties in many sectors of the private care industry, there is a case for checking to see that robust procedures are in effect and well-known to local relevant parties, to ensure the safety of vulnerable care users.
(The new guidance contains an indication that the government will create statutory adult safeguarding boards. Following the recent scandal at Winterbourne View, the Health Minister Paul Burstow has said that the plans will be unveiled within 2 weeks: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13661551.)