This chapter outlines the key employment issues for staff in relation to safeguarding adults.


Safeguarding Structures and Organisations

1. Introduction

This section covers the responsibility of organisations, with leadership from the South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board, to support staff and to ensure that there is a well trained workforce equipped to safeguard adults who are experiencing or at risk of abuse and neglect. These responsibilities are highlighted in the Adult Safeguarding Improvement Tool  which was developed in partnership by:

Workforce development is a key enabler of change to meet the standards set out. The tool enables effective scrutiny of safeguarding work at all levels and across all agencies with safeguarding responsibilities in the context of Making Safeguarding Personal and ensuring greater independence and choice for users of services. The shift in culture and practice, in response to what we now know about what makes safeguarding more or less effective from the perspective of the person being safeguarded, is the greatest challenge for organisations.

For agencies involved in making Section 42 enquiries, there may be particular cultural and learning and development needs including improving skills in:

  • communication with a wider range of people;
  • risk assessment – making complex interpretations of information about the safety and wellbeing of people in order to balance professional assessment of risk with the rights of adults at risk to determine their own safeguarding outcomes.

Learning from the work of Munro (Munro Review of Child Protection: a Child-Centred System), there is a danger that, ‘When the organisation does not pay sufficient attention to these skills, then procedures may be followed in a way that is technically correct but is so inexpert that the desired result is not achieved.’

A positive workplace culture (key in preventing abuse in the provision of care) should be developed through strong leadership and management.  Changes in the way that the workforce responds to concerns about abuse or neglect may mean that some organisations may have to assess their capacity to meet their safeguarding responsibilities. Skills for Care have produced a Capacity Planning Model: Workforce Capacity Planning that organisations working in adult social care might find helpful.

2. Prevention

Knowing how to stop abuse and neglect and prevent it happening in the first place should be at the forefront of safeguarding developments. Staff need to be mindful of potential risks and discuss these with people who might be at risk of abuse or neglect at every opportunity, giving them information and support that enables them to make informed choices. Awareness campaigns for the general public and multi-agency training for all staff might contribute to achieving these objectives

Dealing with the variety of need is better achieved by professionals understanding the underlying principles of good practice in assessment, risk management and safeguarding work, and developing the expertise to apply them throughout.

3. Safe Organisations

A safe organisation ensures that its governing body, all of its employees, commissioned or contracted agents and volunteers or adult participants are aware of their responsibilities to safeguard children and adults. This includes:

  • safer recruitment / selection practice;
  • good induction systems;
  • ongoing training / updates for staff (and others) in minimum standards in adult safeguarding;
  • clear access to guidance / procedures for both children and adult safeguarding;
  • awareness of local protocols and systems for information sharing and referral;
  • developing a listening culture to adults with an open mind and promoting person-centred;
  • clear and accessible complaints and whistleblowing procedures;
  • adherence to agreed local procedures for responding to concerns and allegations of abuse and neglect of harm by persons in positions of trust;
  • independent advocacy and support;
  • good record keeping;
  • a formal and independent review process for learning from serious incidents, SARs and other reviews that may impact on adult safeguarding;
  • regular audits of the above to ensure compliance;
  • leadership / accountability in a named senior manager and clear access to specialist advice about adult safeguarding (externally if not available within the organisation).

4. Recruitment and Barring

All organisations that employ adults or volunteers to work with children or vulnerable adults should adopt a consistent thorough process of safer recruitment to ensure those recruited are the best candidates for the role and are suitable to work with vulnerable groups. The Disclosure and Barring Service provides Criminal Records Checking and Barring Functions to help employers make safe recruitment decisions. In addition, recruitment processes should evidence:

  • right to work in the UK;
  • application process (forms, supporting statements, curriculum vitae, interview and selection);
  • qualifications;
  • verifiable references.

5. Related Issues

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974: people working with children or vulnerable adults are required to reveal all convictions, both spent and unspent. Registration with professional bodies: if registration with a professional body is a condition of employment, staff are responsible for maintaining their registration. Employers should carry out compliance audits as part of their safeguarding quality assurance measures.

6. Induction

It is important for all workers to know exactly what is expected of them in their role. Employers should ensure that there is an agreed induction period that covers cultures, standards, human resources policy and procedures, terms and conditions. Additionally, staff should be supported through this period to understand their safeguarding role and responsibility.

7. Professional Development

For frontline workers in health and social care, the Care Certificate (Skills for Care) sets out the minimum standards required and aims to ensure that workers have the same introductory skills, knowledge and behaviours to provide compassionate, safe and high quality care and support. It is designed for new staff, but also offers opportunities for existing staff to refresh or improve their knowledge. It was developed jointly by Skills for Care, Health Education England and Skills for Health.

The Care Certificate:

  • links to National Occupational Standards and units in qualifications;
  • gives workers a good basis from which they can further develop their knowledge and skills.

For managers in adult social care there are also Manager Induction Standards.

Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) is designed to help newly qualified social workers (NQSWs) to develop their skills, knowledge and capability. It aims to strengthen their professional confidence. It aims to provide them with access to regular and focused support during their first year of employment. Their safeguarding skills should be developed as part of this process.

8. Learning and Development

South Tyneside Safeguarding Adults Board will lead and each organisation will determine their own Learning and Development activities which may include seminars on specific topics, practice development forums whereby staff learn from audits and performance data, and peer challenges as well as formal training. Learning and Development activity should be informed by learning from SARs and a shared approach to learning.

9. Training

All organisations need to ensure that staff and volunteers have access to training and continuous professional development that is appropriate to their level of responsibility. Safeguarding adults and mental capacity training is mandatory in most organisations. It is suggested that at a minimum it should cover:

  • recognising different types of abuse and how to raise a concern;
  • mental capacity, consent and best interest;
  • Making Safeguarding Personal;
  • risk and how to manage it;
  • duties under Section 42 on enquiries;
  • recording.

Skills for Care and the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) have produced a library of training resources for adult safeguarding work.

In addition to the suggested mandatory training, other areas to consider are:

  • advocacy;
  • dignity and respect;
  • domestic abuse;
  • mediation;
  • living with risk;
  • people whose behaviour challenges;
  • SARs;
  • self-neglect;
  • complaints;
  • working with carers.

Some organisations may have specific mandatory training. For example, NHS staff are required to undertake Prevent training. The National Skills Academy for Health provides information about training specifically for NHS organisations. Adult social care providers might find helpful training suggestions from the Care Quality Commission and Skills for Care websites. Regulated professionals such as nurses and social workers will have specific requirements for CPD that include Safeguarding. Organisations should append their own training manuals to this policy wherever possible.

10. Capability Framework

Learn to Care and Bournemouth University National Capability Framework sets out levels of skills, knowledge and experience expected of individual staff. The framework supports organisations:

  • to raise standards and ensure consistent and proportionate response to safeguarding
  • improve partnership working and consistency to secure better outcomes for people;
  • to support work-based evidence of learning and competence in practice;
  • to provide managers with a framework to evaluate performance and identify training needs;
  • clarify expectations of the role of all relevant members of the workforce in safeguarding;
  • provide quality assurance tools for commissioners and contract monitoring officers.

All staff should be assessed as competent against the competences that are relevant to their occupational role. Whatever their role, all staff should know when and how to report any concern about abuse or neglect of an adult. Therefore all staff need to be competent at the first level and beyond this it will depend on their occupational role and level responsibilities. Training can be linked to a particular staff group to ensure the workforce is able to meet the specified competence. All commissioned training can be evaluated against the specific competences for specific roles. See also Safeguarding Adults Workbooks: Developing Safeguarding Adults at Risk Resources , Bournemouth University. The required staff training levels will be determined locally, and organisations may wish to reflect similar levels of training for specific staff in line with training available in safeguarding children. There may be scope for joint training for example domestic abuse.

11. Supervision and Appraisal

Supervision (see Effective Supervision in a Variety of Settings, SCIE) is essential to supporting practitioners, and provides assurance for both the organisation and the practitioner. Workers should feel confident that they are supported to deliver safeguarding and have the right training and professional development through regular supervision and appraisal. Staff should be encouraged to further their knowledge base through gaining additional skills and knowledge. Organisations should ensure that staff receive clinical and/or management supervision that affords them the opportunity to reflect on their practice and the impact of their actions on the adult and others. Supervisors should be qualified to take on these responsibilities.

Appraisals are central to effective practice. Appraisals ensure that all staff are focused on outcomes and have clarity about their role. Staff should expect to receive an annual appraisal, linked to the overall safeguarding strategic plan.

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