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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

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.

Imogen ParryA 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 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.

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  • ?Is this just one more cop out by Westminster pushing this very real problem out into the Community that is not prepared or has the trained staff to impliment this very hard undrertaking, as all the experts on this subject are social workers with years of experieance not some poor estate manager who has their hands full as most of these departments in the RSL sector are under staffed at the moment due to the VfM ethic which is running wild at the moment through the sector, and the LA have social workers on staff at the moment and as the above shows they do not think that they have a problem

    Challinor, John
  • I welcome the requirement for all housing organisations to have policy and procedures in place and knowledgeable staff. Housing staff are at the front line and staff need to be well trained and well supported to ensure they have knowledge and confidence to deal effectively with safeguarding concerns. At Knightstone we have reviewed all our policies and procedures this year, have trained all our relevant staff and have promoted Safeguarding as a key area of work. The renewed focus across the business has resulted in a significant increase in reporting, in particular from our colleagues working in general rented housing. Increasingly our residents needs are becoming more complex and staff dealing with income management, financial inclusion and ASB are finding that presenting issues frequently have underlying safeguarding concerns. We have extended our work on safeguarding to our contractors and all of our new maintenance contractors have an internal safeguarding lead and we have delivered toolbox talks to contractors staff so that they too have the confidence to raise any concerns with us or to ask for our advice. You are right that collaboration is absolutely key and integral to that is building strong working relationships with Social services, GPs and mental health service providers. Following a homicide review in 2012 we have been working closely with mental health services to develop close working and protocols for information sharing and an agreed approach to housing staff being an active participant in service delivery through the care program approach. Progress has been slow and we have learnt the need not just for strategic partnerships but for front line staff making links at local level so we can ensure our residents can access appropriate support at a time when they need it and that support delivery is multi agency and risk management planning is robust. A disappointment of the Care Act for me has been the missed opportunity to consider how safeguarding can be a useful tool to ensuring help for those residents who self neglect. Local authorities do have policies on this but for me self neglect should be enshrined within Safeguarding. The other obvious omission is safeguarding in relation to NHS services. One of the learning points for us from the homicide review we were involved in was a change in policy whereby the failure of statutory services to respond appropriately to concerns raised by our staff is treated as a safeguarding issue. I join the South Gloucestershire SAB in September as support housing provider rep and my hope is to raise the profile of housing and to promote good practice amongst local housing providers. The Support Alliance website will certainly assist with this.

    Furzland, Sonia Josephine

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