Social workers must be more wary of family carer abuse

Social workers must not place undue confidence in families' ability to care for service users if they are to identify abuse perpetrated by and against informal carers, directors have warned.

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Social workers must not place undue confidence in families’ ability to care for service users if they are to identify abuse perpetrated by and against informal carers, directors have warned.

Though such instances are rare, they can go unnoticed because of social workers adopting a “rule of optimism” in relation to families’ ability to care, says a good practice paper published today by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (Adass).

It said the risks of the abuse of carers going unnoticed also increased where professionals did not listen to carers, failed to respond to their concerns or placed excessive emphasis on the requirements of confidentiality in relation to service users.

Signs professionals should look out for in detecting the risk of carers being abused included service users having needs that exceeded carers’ ability to meet them, rejecting help and support from outside, not meeting thresholds for support or refusing to be left alone.

It said these risk factors tended to be greater where the service user had dementia.

The risks of carers abusing service users increased when carers had unmet needs of their own, were themselves vulnerable, were not receiving support from other family members or had no other responsibilities outside the caring environment.

Strategies to prevent both types of abuse should include working with carers as partners, ensuring care and support arrangements reflect their wishes and rights and do not involve inappropriate levels of caring responsibility and using “whole family” approaches to assessment.

It said training should include considering how the “rule of optimism” impacts on professionals’ assessment of risk of harm.

Adass is looking for good practice examples of safeguarding in relation to carers.

Submissions of no more than 200 lines that do not identify individual carers or users should be sent to adasscarers@warwickshire.gov.uk and include information on what the practice involved, the difference it made and any learning points.


See the Adass report


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