Thirty health professionals saw Jessica Randall – and her injuries – and yet none saw fit to involve children’s services. Her tragic murder at the hands of her father provided more proof that communication between professions and agencies has to improve. At least, with the intense media scrutiny surrounding the case, there is a chance it will happen.
The same can’t be said of adult protection. Last year research revealed that nearly 350,000 older people suffer abuse. The government responded by announcing a review of No Secrets – the eight-year-old guidance on safeguarding vulnerable adults.
But, this week, ahead of its launch, a leading campaigner questioned the government’s commitment to the review. It’s clear we have to address these concerns – but we also have to revive the bigger debate about putting adult protection on the same legal footing as children.
As service users gain more freedom to manage their own care, they are going to face more risk. The positive drive towards personalisation has to be matched by greater legal protection against abuse.
Social workers need the power to be able enter the homes of people they fear are being abused and remove them if necessary – a power that already exists in Scotland. And we need a duty on statutory agencies to share information.
Otherwise, a lack of legal duties, performance indicators and media interest will enable the abuse of adults to continue.
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This article appeared in the 21 February issue under the headline “Prioritise elder abuse”