More social workers are embracing Making Safeguarding Personal because they see it as an opportunity to return to their core values, the latest evaluation of the initiative has found.
A survey of 115 councils carried out by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) as part of the evaluation, found 50% of authorities said their social workers had reacted “very positively” to the safeguarding initiative, up from 36% the previous year.
The proportion of councils who said social workers were ‘fairly positive’ about MSP also rose, from 38% to 47%.
Practitioners reported feeling enthusiastic about the approach because it meant they were helping people to take charge of their own lives rather than simply going through a process, the evaluation found. Many social workers also saw the initiative as a “much-welcome return to social work” and a “refreshing change” from the care management model.
Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP) was introduced in 2010 and aimed to use social work skills to make safeguarding work more focused on achieving meaningful outcomes for people.
‘Tricky area of practice’
Adi Cooper, co-chair of the ADASS safeguarding network, told Community Care the growing support for the approach was inspirational.
She said: “In most local authorities social workers have really responded well to this, they are having champions, case meetings, support networks – all common formats for improving and reflecting on practice that are also absolutely critical to what MSP is trying to achieve.
“Safeguarding is one of the trickiest parts of social work, people are in really difficult situations that often do not have straight forward solutions. So to hear people have that energy or are passionate about MSP, we feel we must be doing something right.”
Despite growing backing for Making Safeguarding Personal from professionals, the evaluation found just 6% of local authorities had fully implemented the approach. More than three-quarters of councils (77%) said they were in the process of rolling it out and 17% were still developing plans.
Mike Briggs, who co-chairs the ADASS network alongside Cooper, said the previous evaluation of MSP in 2014-15 found “some resistance” to the approach due to individuals and organisations seeing it as “more time consuming and using more resources”.
“As people have moved forward and embraced MSP, they’ve found it does not take up any more time than a traditional approach and it does lead to more creativity,” he said.
He pointed to one local authority that had freed up some of its administration staff to spend more time with service users. “Less meetings means less minute writing and issues being dealt with more effectively at the start of the process,” he said.
The evaluation also found a “big decline” in meetings of professionals, while more were taking place with the individuals concerned, often in their own homes.
“Services were moving away from purely substantiating abuse as an output to safer and restorative resolutions for the people who had been abused,” the report said.
‘Rise in referrals’
The report also highlighted the recent rise in safeguarding referrals, which appeared to almost double in the first six months after the Care Act 2014 came into force in April last year.
The report said it was “unclear” what impact MSP had on these changes or vice-versa, but it did list the fact that safeguarding had been placed on a statutory footing by the legislation and now included a wider group of people as two possible factors behind the increase.
Briggs said: “This is my personal view, but I think one of the things that’s happened is that because safeguarding became more on a statutory footing with section 42 in the Care Act, referrals that were previously seen as low priority got escalated. I think people got a bit wary.”
He also pointed to referrals coming from other organisations.
“They may have looked at the Care Act and then thought this case probably isn’t safeguarding, but let’s be sure here. It’s a bit of a ‘better safe than sorry’ approach.”