Safeguarding adults – are you ready for April 2015?
Work surrounding safeguarding adults is becoming more and more complex, with increasing numbers of “hard-to-solve” cases as well as changes to the law, policy and practice. From April 2015, all housing providers must have adult safeguarding policies and procedures in place as well as knowledgeable and trained staff, says Imogen Parry, co-chair of the Housing and Safeguarding Adults Alliance.
A particularly challenging implication for housing providers of the overlooked safeguarding aspects of the Care Act 2014 and related guidance is the encouragement for the sector to engage at a strategic level. Although the proposal that housing should become a core member of Safeguarding Adults Boards (SABs) was not accepted by government during the passage of the Bill, the draft statutory guidance makes it clear that SABs are expected to include other members, including housing providers and housing support providers. But how many senior housing staff understand the role and remit of SABs let alone feel competent enough in safeguarding issues to sit on them?
I surveyed independent chairs of SABs last year to establish the extent and benefits of housing representation, and was heartened to receive very positive accounts of the contribution of housing to SABs, albeit mostly in unitary authorities and by council housing providers, not housing associations.
However, the operational changes required by housing providers are just as pressing as the need to engage with SABs. From April 2015, all (not just sheltered and supported) housing providers must have adult safeguarding policies and procedures in place, and staff that are familiar with the following:
- The six principles underpinning adult safeguarding
- Trained in recognising the symptoms of abuse
- Vigilant and able to respond to adult safeguarding concerns.
The guidance states that all agencies should consider the benefits of having a lead for adult safeguarding - a point I made in the CIH anthology Learning today, leading tomorrow – skills and learning for the housing industry of the future with my article Adult safeguarding – the need for all staff to engage.
The complexity of safeguarding adults is increasing with frequent “hard-to-solve” cases, challenging Human Rights Act and Mental Capacity Act case law, and warnings that the remit of the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards could be extended to the supported living sector. Therefore, skilled, knowledgeable and motivated senior managers must drive the changes necessary to not only introduce a “safeguarding culture” across each housing organisation through effective policies, procedures and training applicable to all staff, but also by keeping abreast of case law and other changes to law, policy and practice affecting adult safeguarding.
Housing providers must collaborate locally to demonstrate to their statutory partners their commitment to improving adult safeguarding. The new Housing and Safeguarding Adults Alliance aims to encourage, promote and recognise the contribution of the housing sector in safeguarding adults. We bring together leading housing providers alongside professional and trade bodies, including the CIH. Readers are encouraged to look at our eight objectives and assess their organisation’s current delivery on each relevant objective, then create an action plan to address gaps and improve safeguarding locally.
CIH can advise you and help you deliver a partnership-led approach when signing up to an adult safeguarding protocol. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0844 561 1758 to find out how.
CIH will host a Delivering Housing Solutions for Older People Conference and Exhibition in Stratford-upon-Avon on 9 and 10 September.