Adult safeguarding has become a priority practice area over the past 20 years. An ageing population and imminent redrafting of adult care legislation will ensure it becomes even more important in future. Here, Chris Russell offers advice on how to make the best of every opportunity a safeguarding meeting provides.
1 Preparation is essential
These meetings are often arranged at short notice, but they are always about serious matters. You must prepare accordingly. Fully refresh your knowledge of the case before the meeting. Attend with the information you need to participate fully. Have conversations with relevant colleagues and your manager as part of your preparation. Anticipate what you might be asked to action and be ready for this too.
2 Maintain focus
The meeting aims to address safeguarding matters. Keep to this focus within all your contributions. Ensure that you leave the meeting knowing precisely what you have agreed to undertake, and by when. If you are unsure of any detail, clarify this with the chair.
3 The voice of the person who is deemed at risk must be heard
The chair has prime responsibility for this, but you must contribute. If the adult at risk is attending, ensure you do everything to enable them to participate fully. For example, avoid using meaningless and confusing jargon.
4 If you are chairing a meeting be clear about your role
You shouldn’t be expected to have all the answers. Your role is to manage and facilitate the meeting so that its aim and objectives are achieved. Remember to allow enough time for action planning; a key aspect and one that requires time. If the person who is at risk is attending, ensure you have organised the venue and meeting structure to enable them to fully participate.
5 What about next time?
Reflect on your learning as a delegate and professional. What could you do to be more effective at the next safeguarding meeting? What went well? Preventative safeguarding is about recognising key details and applying learning. How might you change your safeguarding practice to reduce harm in future? Are there wider lessons for your team or even organisation that you can take back?
Chris Russell is a social worker, lecturer and interim board member of the College of Social Work
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