Direct payments may fail to protect vulnerable adults

The direct payments system could be a barrier to protecting
vulnerable adults in Scotland, delegates at Community Care
Live Scotland heard today, writes Gordon Carson from

David Formstone, a senior manager for community care at East
Dunbartonshire Council, told a seminar there were “much
looser arrangements” in the monitoring and vetting of staff
employed by service users through direct payments compared with
those employed by councils.

While his authority insists that every person employed through
direct payments must undergo a criminal records disclosure, others
don’t go that far.

But Ann Ferguson, elder abuse project leader at Age Concern
Scotland, said some service user groups, such as those representing
people with learning difficulties, had in the past voiced their
opposition to stricter controls.

“They do not want that vulnerable adult label and have the
same right as every other citizen to choose,” she said.

George Graham, chief superintendent at Dumfries & Galloway
police, said better relationships between agencies would be crucial
to improving the protection of vulnerable adults.

“If we’ve learned anything from child protection
it’s that all of us have information that doesn’t mean
a great deal but when we bring it together it means an awful
lot,” he said.

“I often hear my senior managers criticising social work
staff or teachers but I challenge that and try to get them to
understand. There needs to be more trust.”

He also highlighted the risk involved in adult protection.
“There’s a real challenge in avoiding this culture of
blame when things go wrong, as they undoubtedly will,” he

Ferguson said independent organisations, such as charities,
needed to have a greater understanding of the abuse of vulnerable
adults if they were to influence the Scottish executive’s
forthcoming legislation on the issue.

“Very few have policies on abuse,” she said.
“A lot don’t even have related policies like good
recruitment processes. Without policies to support practice we are
not going to be on the starting blocks when new legislation comes

She also claimed there needed to be more transitional housing
for victims of abuse because they tended to “end up in care


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