The government will no longer ask councils, NHS commissioners and police forces to appoint designated adult safeguarding managers under the Care Act 2014.
The Department of Health said the role was being removed following consultation with the sector which identified that the DASM function was duplicating existing functions in local authorities.
News of the decision, which was broadly welcomed by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, comes just six months after the role came into force through the Care Act 2014’s statutory guidance. The change will come through a revision to the statutory guidance, due this autumn.
The DASM role was based on the designated officer (formerly Local Authority Designated Officer) that local authorities are required to appoint to manage and oversee allegations against people who work with children.
Care Act requirements
The Department of Health stressed that the DASM role was never a requirement, though the Care Act statutory guidance urges relevant agencies to appoint one. It says: “Each member of the SAB should have a Designated Adult Safeguarding Manager (DASM) responsible for the management and oversight of individual complex cases and coordination where allegations are made or concerns raised about a person, whether an employee, volunteer or student, paid or unpaid.”
This has been interpreted by the Department of Health to apply to those bodies required by the Care Act to be members of the SAB – local authorities, clinical commissioning groups and police forces. The guidance states that DASMs’ role also includes to:
- Monitor the progress of cases, ensuring they are dealt with as quickly as possible, through a fair and consistent process.
- Ensure systems are in place to provide the employee with support and regular updates on the investigation.
- Ensure appropriate recording systems are in place to provide clear audit trails about decision-making and all processes relating to the investigations.
- Work with providers to ensure the prompt and appropriate referral of staff to the Disclosure and Barring Service and relevant professional regulators.
- Provide advice and guidance within their organisations.
Following the publication of the guidance in October 2014 some local authorities recruited DASMs. However, concerns were raised by councils and other stakeholders that the role duplicated others already being carried out within authorities.
Liz Bruce, chair of the Adass safeguarding network, said the association broadly welcomed the decision to remove the role.
She added: “Many authorities already have chosen different ways of meeting this function, and compelling further appointments might have muddied the waters a little.
“The decision doesn’t mean that we don’t have leads for safeguarding and for social work. It does mean, though, that each organisation will ensure a strategic and practice lead in this area.”
However, the inclusion and removal of the role was criticised by Action on Elder Abuse chief executive Gary FitzGerald.
“The demise of the DASM role is unlikely to be mourned by anyone as it was a costly fiasco from start to finish,” he said. “It was never included in the Care Act and appeared in the subsequent guidance as an unwelcome surprise that was confusing at best.”
FitzGerald added: “The sector has been saying throughout that this would lead to duplication, it’s just taken months for someone to listen. Frankly, if we want to protect victims of abuse we are going to need much better leadership than this.
“Sadly this leaves a number of local authorities with appointments to jobs that now no longer have a statutory basis. What a complete waste of everyone’s time, money and effort.”
However, the Department of Health said that no stakeholder it had consulted with had said that any time or money had been wasted as a result of the inclusion and forthcoming removal of the DASM role.