Pressures on adult safeguarding continue to mount as referrals rise by 4%

Rise in referrals follows 11% hike last year, increasing safeguarding caseloads for adult social workers.

Pressures on the adult safeguarding system are continuing to mount as referrals rose by 4% last year, following an 11% hike the previous year, show official figures released today.

Professionals investigated 112,000 referrals in 2012-13, up from 108,000 in 2011-12, according to provisional statistics published today by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). There was a more significant rise in the number of alerts of suspected abuse of adults; these rose by 19% (26,000 alerts) among councils who submitted alert data in 2011-12 and 2012-13. Council practitioners must examine alerts to see if they meet safeguarding thresholds and thereby become referrals that require investigation.

The HSCIC said it was not possible to know whether the mounting number of cases constituted a rise in the level of abuse or neglect or increased reporting of it, or a combination of the two.

Of the 86,000 completed cases for which a case conclusion was recorded, 43% of allegations were wholly or partly substantiated, 30% were not substantiated and in 27% of cases a conclusion could not be reached. However, the most common recorded outcome for the alleged victim and perpetrator was “no further action”, accounting for 30% of outcomes for alleged victims and 35% for alleged perpetrators.

In findings similar to 2011-12’s statistics, alleged abuse was most likely to take place in the victim’s own home (39% of cases) or a care home (36%), and the alleged perpetrator was most likely to be a care worker (31%) or a family member (23%).

This year sees significant changes in the way social workers must record safeguarding cases for submission to the HSCIC, with a greater focus on outcomes over processes. From now on, practitioners will have to record whether their interventions resulted in reduced, removed or unchanged risks to the alleged victim, rather than recording the specific processes they used, such as increased monitoring or commissioning a care package.

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