Safeguarding adult boards are struggling to secure sufficient resources and the participation of key agencies in their work, a Department of Health-commissioned study finds today.
But DH plans to put boards on a statutory footing in England could help address these issues, said the report on board governance, which was based on a literature review and workshops with board chairs, directors of adult social services and safeguarding leads.
“Securing resources for the work of a board is a key challenge,” said the report. “Adults boards rarely have their own dedicated budgets.” Often, councils were left to fund the board themselves, with contributions in kind, but not cash, from other agencies.
It also said boards’ authority over their members was unclear with agencies commonly determining how far they adhered to board decisions and problems in some areas with partners not attending meetings.
The study also found concerns about the effectiveness of serious case reviews in the absence of a duty on agencies to co-operate in carrying them out.
The DH has accepted a recommendation to put safeguarding boards on a statutory footing from the Law Commission in its review of adult care law, which reported in May.
“Specific legislation that sets out for safeguarding adults boards roles and functions, membership and accountabilities, would help to standardise policy and procedures, to hold agencies more easily accountable, to clarify responsibilities and to ensure participation, in ways that guidance, differentially binding on the partners, has not so far been able to do,” said today’s report.
It said the following features were characteristic of good boards:
• Clarity on the role and status of the chair, and board rules of engagement, including resources.
• Explicit commitments on membership, in roles that are understood and agreed, including clarity on the authority of the board in relation to member agencies.
• Clear structures with explicit divisions of responsibility and robust coordinating mechanisms.
• Explicit involvement of people who use services and carers in the work of the board, and standards for their empowerment in all safeguarding activity
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