Safeguarding can be closed at any stage where:
- the local authority has completed its statutory duty in respect of the adult;
- it is agreed by all involved that an enquiry is no longer needed; or
- the enquiry has been completed, and the risk assessment, safeguarding plan and personal outcomes have been reviewed.
Closures at any stage of the safeguarding process should be subject to an evaluation of outcomes by the adult or their advocate. If they do not agree with the decision to close the enquiry, their reasons should be fully explored and documented, alternatives discussed and a satisfactory resolution achieved.
The local authority’s duty under the Care Act 2014, continues until all necessary actions have been taken to safeguard the adult and there is an active plan in place to maintain their safety. The safeguarding response under the procedures must be formally closed by a team manager / senior social worker in the local authority.
2. Actions Prior to Closure
The practitioner who has been the lead coordinator for the enquiry should ensure all relevant people are advised in writing that the enquiry is being closed, and that they all know who to contact if they have any further concerns. Before the enquiry is closed, the lead practitioner should ensure:
- the adult, or their advocate, states their outcomes identified at the start of the enquiry have been achieved;
- the adult and their carer know who to contact if they have any concerns about abuse or neglect in the future;
- all actions have been completed or are ongoing;
- a current risk assessment and management plan is in place;
- a safeguarding plan is in place where required;
- all necessary records have been completed and case records contain all relevant information and completed forms;
- all the stakeholders have been informed of the enquiry’s outcome, receive an update of the completed action plan and any ongoing risk management / safety plan.
Following the safeguarding enquiry closure, where reviews such as care management assessments, Care Programme Approach (CPA), care and support plans, health or placements are planned, checks should be carried out as to whether there has been any reoccurrence of the abuse or neglect, or new concerns have been raised.
Individuals should be advised on how and who to contact with agreement on how matters will be followed up with the adult if there are further concerns. It is good practice where a care management assessment, Care Programme Approach (CPA), reassessment of care and support, health review, placement review or any other pre-booked review is due to take place following the safeguarding enquiry, for a standard check to be made that there has been no reoccurrence of concerns.
Closure records should note the reason for this decision as well as the views of the adult to the proposed closure. The relevant team manager responsible should ensure that all actions have been taken, building in any personalised actions:
- agreements with the adult to closure;
- referral for assessment and support;
- advice and information provided;
- all organisations involved in the enquiry updated and informed;
- feedback has been provided to the referrer;
- action taken with the person alleged to have caused harm;
- action taken to support other service users;
- referral to children and young people’ services made (if necessary);
- outcomes noted and evaluated by the adult;
- consideration for a SAR;
- any lessons to be learnt.
3. Closure Records
Closure records should note the reason for the decision and the views of the adult to the proposed closure. They should also include:
- the adult’s outcomes, including their evaluation of what has been achieved;
- any referrals made for assessment;
- any referrals for care and support services;
- any advice and information provided;
- which practitioners, including their organisation, have been updated and informed;
- feedback has been provided to the initial referrer;
- details of any action taken with the person alleged to have caused harm, and any related ongoing processes including contact details of practitioners involved;
- details of any action taken to safeguard any other adults who may have been at risk of abuse or neglect by the same alleged perpetrator, or impacted by what occurred;
- details of any referrals made in relation to children and young people involved in the case;
- whether there has been any consideration for a safeguarding adults review, and if so the outcome of the decision;
- any lessons to be learnt and how these will be disseminated;
- completion of the safeguarding data returns (see Safeguarding Adults Data chapter).
The responsible manager should ensure that all actions have been taken, before signing off the closure.
Whilst the safeguarding enquiry may have been closed, other processes may continue for example, professional body investigations, safeguarding adult review or criminal proceedings. These may take time to conclude. In such circumstances consideration should be given to any impact of these processes on the adult and their family, and responsibility for monitoring such effects and also communicating progress in relation to the enquiries should be agreed. Where there are ongoing criminal investigations or court trials, the safeguarding enquiry can be closed providing the adult is safeguarded, as outlined above.
4. Closing Enquiries when other Processes Continue
The adult safeguarding process may be closed but other processes may continue, for example, a disciplinary or professional body investigation. These processes may take some time. Consideration may need to be given to the impact of these on the adult and how this will be monitored. Where there are outstanding criminal investigations and pending court actions, the adult safeguarding process can also be closed providing that the adult is safeguarded. All closures, no matter at what stage, are subject to an evaluation of outcomes by the adult. If the adult disagrees with the decision to close the safeguarding process, their reasons should be fully explored and alternatives offered.
At the close of each enquiry there should be evidence of:
- enhanced safeguarding practice ensuring that people have an opportunity to discuss the outcomes they want at the start of safeguarding activity;
- follow-up discussions with people at the end of safeguarding activity to see to what extent their desired outcomes have been met;
- recording the results in a way that can be used to inform practice and provide aggregated outcomes information for the South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board