This chapter provides information for multi-agency practitioners about the roles and responsibilities of partner agencies of the South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board.


South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Structures and Organisations

1. Introduction

Roles and responsibilities should be clear and collaboration should take place at all the following levels:

  • operational;
  • supervisory line management;
  • practice leadership;
  • strategic leadership within the senior management team;
  • corporate / cross authority;
  • chief officers / chief executives;
  • local authority members and local police and crime commissioners;
  • commissioners;
  • providers of services;
  • voluntary organisations;
  • regulated professionals.

2. Operational Frontline Staff

See also Safeguarding Enquiries Process, Making Safeguarding Personal, Supervision, Safeguarding Training for Staff and Volunteers.

Operational frontline staff are responsible for identifying and responding to allegations of abuse and substandard practice. Staff at operational level need to share a common view of what types of behaviour may be abuse or neglect and what to do as an initial response to a suspicion or allegation that it is or has occurred. This includes GPs. It is the employers and commissioners duty to set these out clearly and reinforce regularly.

It is not for frontline staff to second guess the outcome of an enquiry in deciding whether or not to share their concerns. There should be effective and well publicised ways of escalating concerns where immediate line managers do not take action in response to a concern being raised.

Concerns about abuse or neglect must be reported whatever the source of harm is. It is imperative that poor or neglectful care is brought to the immediate attention of managers and responded to swiftly, including ensuring immediate safety and wellbeing of the adult. Where the source of abuse or neglect is a member of staff it is for the employer to take immediate action and record what they have done and why (similarly for volunteers and or students).

There should be clear arrangements in place about what each agency should contribute at this level. These will cover approaches to enquiries and subsequent courses of action. The local authority is responsible for ensuring effective co-ordination at this level.

See also Safeguarding Case Studies.

3. Line Managers’ Supervision

See also Safeguarding Enquiries Process, Making Safeguarding Personal, Supervision, Safeguarding Training for Staff and Volunteers.

Skillful and knowledgeable supervision focused on outcomes for adults is critically important in safeguarding work. Managers have a central role in ensuring high standards of practice and that practitioners are properly equipped and supported. It is important to recognise that dealing with situations involving abuse and neglect can be stressful and distressing for staff and workplace support should be available.

Managers need to develop good working relationships with their counterparts in other agencies to improve cooperation locally and swiftly address any differences or difficulties that arise between front line staff or managers.

They should have access to legal advice when proposed interventions, such as the proposed stopping of contact between family members, or if it is unclear whether proposed serious and / or invasive medical treatment is likely to be in the best interests of the adult who lacks capacity to consent, require applications to the Court of Protection.

4. Practice Leadership

All social workers undertaking work with adults should have access to a source of additional advice and guidance particularly in complex and contentious situations. Principal social workers are often well placed to perform this role or to ensure that appropriate practice supervision is available.

Principal social workers in the local authority are responsible for providing professional leadership for social work practice in their organisation and organisations undertaking statutory responsibilities on behalf of the local authority. Practice leaders / principal social workers should ensure that practice is in line with the Care and Support Statutory Guidance.

Making safeguarding personal represents a fundamental shift in social work practice and underpins all healthcare delivery in relation to safeguarding, with a focus on the person not the process. As the professional lead for social work, principal social workers and senior healthcare safeguarding professionals should have a broad knowledge base on safeguarding and making safeguarding personal and are confident in its application in their own and others’ work.

All providers of healthcare should have in place named professionals, who are a source of additional advice and support in complex and contentious cases within their organisation. There should be a designated professional lead in the ICB, who is a source of advice and support to the governing body in relation to the safeguarding of individuals and is able to act as the lead in the management of complex cases.

All commissioners and providers of healthcare should ensure that staff have the necessary competences and that training in place to ensure that their staff are able to deliver the service in relation to the safeguarding of individuals. Many of the police investigators involved in safeguarding investigations are specially trained for that role and work in specialist units. Each of those units has a set of arrangements to help provide advice and guidance to ensure that a thorough investigation takes place in order to achieve successful outcomes for the individual.

The police service itself has identified ways that enable non-specialist officers to seek advice from supervisors at every stage of the safeguarding process, even when specialist departments are unavailable.

5. Strategic Leadership within the Senior Management Team

Each Safeguarding Adults Board (SAB) member agency – local authority, Integrated Care Board (ICB) and police, should identify a senior manager to take a lead role in the organisational and in inter-agency arrangements, including the SAB.

In order for the SAB to be an effective decision making body providing leadership and accountability, members need to be sufficiently senior within their organisation and have the authority to commit the required resources and able to make strategic decisions.

To achieve effective working relationships, based on trust and transparency, members will need to understand the contexts and restraints within which their counterparts work.

Police forces in England and Wales have a head of public protection who has strategic management responsibility for all aspects of protecting people in vulnerable situations, including adults at risk of, or are experiencing, abuse or neglect. The role of the head of public protection is to build an effective working team and develop a multi-agency approach into alleged offences involving people in vulnerable circumstances. They will also have responsibility for managing and developing policy that ensures standardised processes of investigation and working practice throughout each force. The police and ICBs are represented at a strategic level on every local Safeguarding Adults Board and contact details for the individuals concerned will be available to the SAB and all its members.

6. Corporate / Cross Authority Roles

To ensure effective partnership working, each organisation must recognise and accept its role and functions in relation to adult safeguarding. These should be set out in the Safeguarding Adults Board strategic plan as well as its own communication channels. They should also have protocols for mediation and family group conferences and for various forms of dispute resolution.

7. Chief Officers and Chief Executives

As chief officer for the leading adult safeguarding agency, the Director of Adult Social Services (DASS) has a particularly important leadership and challenge role to play in adult safeguarding including promoting prevention, early intervention and partnership working.

Taking a personalised approach to adult safeguarding requires a DASS promoting a culture that is:

  • person-centred;
  • supports choice and control;
  • aims to tackle inequalities.

However, all officers, including the chief executive of the local authority, NHS and police chief officers and executives should lead and promote the development of initiatives to improve the prevention, identification and response to abuse and neglect.

They need to be aware of and able to respond to national developments and ask searching questions within their own organisations to assure themselves that their systems and practices are effective in recognising and preventing abuse and neglect. The chief officers must sign off their organisation’s contributions to the strategic plan and annual reports.

Chief officers should receive regular briefings of case law from the Court of Protection and the High Courts.

8. Local Authority Member Level

Local authority members need to have a good understanding of the range of abuse and neglect issues that can affect adults and of the importance of balancing safeguarding with empowerment.

They need to understand prevention, proportionate interventions, the dangers of risk averse practice and the importance of upholding human rights.

Some Safeguarding Adults Board include elected members and this is one way of increasing awareness of members and ownership at a political level.

Others take the view that members are more able to hold their officers to account if they have not been party to decision making, though they should always be aware of the work of the SAB.

Managers must ensure that members are aware of any critical local issues, whether of an individual nature, matters affecting a service or a particular part of the community.

Local Authority Health Scrutiny Functions, such as the local authority’s Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, Health and Wellbeing Boards (HWBs) and Community Safety Partnerships can play a valuable role in assuring local safeguarding measures, and ensuring that the SAB is accountable to local communities. Similarly, local Health and Wellbeing Boards:

  • provide leadership to the local health and wellbeing system;
  • ensure strong partnership working between local government and the local NHS; and
  • ensure that the needs and views of local communities are represented.

HWBs can therefore play a key role in assurance and accountability of the Safeguarding Adults Board, and local safeguarding measures. Equally the Safeguarding Adults Board may on occasion challenge the decisions of HWBs from that perspective.

9. Commissioners

Commissioners from the local authority, NHS and ICBs are all vital to promoting adult safeguarding. Commissioners have a responsibility to assure themselves of the quality and safety of the organisations they place contracts with and ensure that those contracts have explicit clauses that holds the providers to account for preventing and dealing promptly and appropriately with any example of abuse and neglect.

10. Providers of Services

All service providers, including housing and housing support providers, should have clear operational policies and procedures that reflect the framework set by the Safeguarding Adults Board in consultation with them.

This should include what circumstances they need to report outside their own chain of line management, including outside their organisation to the local authority.

They need to share information with relevant partners such as the local authority even where they are taking action themselves.

Providers should be informed of any allegation against them or their staff and treated with courtesy and openness at all times. It is of critical importance that allegations are handled sensitively and in a timely way both to stop any abuse and neglect but also to ensure a fair and transparent process. It is in no one’s interests to unnecessarily prolong enquiries. However some complex issues may take time to resolve.

Provider agencies should produce for their staff a set of internal guidelines which relate clearly to the multi-agency policy and which set out the responsibilities of all staff to operate within it. These should include guidance on:

  • identifying adults who are particularly at risk of experiencing abuse or neglect;
  • recognising risk from different sources and in different situations and recognising abusive or neglectful behaviour from other service users, colleagues, and family members;
  • routes for making a referral and channels of communication within and beyond the agency;
  • organisational and individual responsibilities for whistleblowing;
  • assurances of protection for whistleblowers;
  • working within best practice as specified in contracts;
  • working within and co-operating with regulatory mechanisms;
  • working within agreed operational guidelines to maintain best practice in relation to:
    • challenging or distressing behaviour;
    • personal and intimate care;
    • control and restraint;
    • gender identity and sexual orientation;
    • medication;
    • handling of people’s money;
    • risk assessment and management.

Internal guidelines should also explain the rights of staff and how employers will respond where abuse is alleged against them within either a criminal or disciplinary context.

11. Voluntary Organisations

Voluntary organisations need to work with commissioners and the Safeguarding Adults Board to agree how their role fits alongside the statutory agencies and how they should work together. This will be of particular importance where they are offering information and advice, independent advocacy, and support or counselling services in safeguarding situations. This will include telephone or online services. Additionally, many voluntary organisations also provide care and support services, including personal care. All voluntary organisations that work with adults need to have safeguarding procedures and lead officers.

12. Regulated Professionals

Staff governed by professional regulation (for example, social workers, doctors, allied health professionals and nurses) should understand how their professional standards and requirements underpin their organisational roles to prevent, recognise and respond to abuse and neglect.

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