This year, the Commission for Social Care Inspection (CSCI) will be featuring safeguarding more prominently in its annual performance assessments and there will be a limit on the star rating that councils can achieve if they do not perform well in safeguarding.
Our inspections have shown that while some councils have sound safeguarding arrangements in place, many still have some way to go – and that is a cause for concern.
Strong leadership on councils is needed to ensure that safeguarding is given a high priority and to drive forward better outcomes for people who use adult care services.
Of the 12 published inspections completed between August 2007 and March 2008, Greenwich, Newham and Lincolnshire were judged to be poor on safeguarding delivery Birmingham, Bristol, Torbay, Bexley, Richmond and Harrow were judged adequate and Ealing, Plymouth and Waltham Forest were judged to be good. None was found to be excellent.
While all the councils had a multi-agency safeguarding forum in place, often this was not enough to keep the profile of safeguarding across the community sufficiently high.
While safeguarding practice was supported by policies and procedures in all councils, compliance was not consistent. Practices were often of variable quality and effectiveness – even in the better performing councils. There was an increasing range of public information on safeguarding, and the quality and scope of training were improving.
While data collation processes were more mature, quality assurance was often weak and this had an adverse impact on the effectiveness of management oversight and ultimately the experience of people who use services and their carers.
There was more work to do to ensure preventive services were aligned to safeguarding, particularly the management of low-level risk. Commissioning processes are beginning to promote a more personalised approach to the management of risk, but the additional risks associated with self-directed care are not being consistently recognised – which is of particular concern.
To improve performance councils should have a systematic audit process to assess their own performance in relation to the national policy and guidance – in particular, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services national framework of standards, which is the most contemporary guidance and endorsed by CSCI.
Operationally, they should have sound policies and procedures in place which provide clarity on what constitutes a safeguarding referral with clear routes to them. Political backing which supports the profile of safeguarding across the whole health and social care community would help, along with sufficient resources to safeguarding perhaps supplemented by other partners.
Councils should also have:
● Multi-agency working providing suitable safeguards.
● Staff resources dedicated to support safeguarding practice.
● Management oversight of front-line practice in place to respond to incidents of malpractice.
CSCI is committed to working effectively with partner agencies, particularly local councils and police in a bid to stamp out abuse, neglect and bad practice whenever or wherever it appears.
● Mike Rourke is business director of inspection, regulation and review at CSCI. Safeguarding adults reports from www.csci.org.uk
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