1.1 The purpose of this policy is to set out what actions are required of staff
working in Stepping Stones for Families when dealing with adult protection and to ensure effective links are made into the South Ayrshire Multi Agency Adult Protection Procedures.
1.2 This document should be read in conjunction with South Ayrshire Multi Agency Adult Protection Procedures.
2.1 The protection of adults at risk of harm is not an option but a responsibility across agencies. The expectation for all “at risk” adults in our communities is that they are empowered, through support from all the public services including social work services, police, health, housing and care organisations to be free from any preventable harm or exploitation. They are enabled to make their own choices about their lives and to live as independently as their personal circumstances may permit.
2.2 It is the policy of Stepping Stones for Families to support and protect anyone who receives our service. We are committed to the protection of adults at risk of harm, and the safeguarding and promoting of the interests and well-being of such adults is of paramount concern.
2.3 Our organisation strives to ensure to the best of its ability that service users will not encounter harm of any form while in its care, and that, if abuse is detected, the situation will be reported immediately to allow investigation by the appropriate statutory agencies.
2.4 Stepping Stones for Families undertakes to ensure it will protect adults it works with from exploitative relationships. In such circumstances where it is found that an adult is at risk then we undertakes to liaise with South Ayrshire Social Work Services to ensure that the adult continues to receive a service as agreed as appropriate.
2.5 Stepping Stones for Families will ensure that staff will be alert to the possibility that they may become aware of adults requiring support and protection who are not service users e.g. relatives, friends, visitors etc.
In all cases staff will report their concerns using the Stepping Stones for Families reporting procedures, as detailed in the procedure outlined at Section B.
2.6 Stepping Stones for Families recognises that the protection of adults at risk of harm is placed above all other operating principles and supersedes the principle of confidentiality.
3.1 In Scotland, there are three Acts of the Scottish Parliament which relate specifically to adult protection. These are:
This means that, the local authority must investigate allegations of abuse involving an adult who lacks the capacity to make or convey decisions for him or herself, whether the adult concerned agrees to the investigation or not.
It is the function of the Public Guardian to investigate situations of suspected financial abuse involving adults who lack capacity under Section 6 of the same Act.
3.2 It is the responsibility of adult protection agencies such as Social Work Services and the Police to make enquiries (proactive and reactive) and to carry out appropriate investigations in order to establish:
a) whether or not an adult is at risk from harm or suspected harm; and, if so,
b) which, if any, of the protective measures available in terms of the legislation are most appropriate to an adult at risk’s individual circumstances.
3.3 It is, however, everyone’s responsibility to report concerns regarding any adult who is, or who appears to be, at risk of harm to Social Work Services. If you are concerned that a vulnerable adult is at risk of exposure to criminal activity such as fraud then Police must be notified as well as Social Work. However, in order to avoid confusion and to have clear lines of accountability, Stepping Stones for Families staff should report concerns directly to their line manager/named person in the first instance. The procedure outlined at Section B sets out the reporting guidelines.
3.4 For the purposes of the Adult Support & Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 (“ASP Act”), an “adult” is a person aged 16 or over. However, if the adult concerned is 16 or 17 years of age, it is possible that s/he is already subject to a Supervision Order or other Order under the Children (Scotland) Act, 1995, or other social work or childcare legislation. If Stepping Stones for Families staff know that such an Order is in place in respect of that person, they should include that information in their report to their line manager/named person. It is the responsibility of Social Work Services to carry out any investigations about anyone who may be subject to such an Order. The procedure outlined at Section B sets out the reporting guidelines.
3.5 Under the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 ’adults at risk’ are defined as adults aged 16 or over who
a) are unable to safeguard their own well-being, property, rights or other interests,
b) are at risk of harm, and
c) because they are affected by disability, mental disorder, illness or physical or mental infirmity, are more vulnerable to being harmed than adults who are not so affected.
3.6 The ASP Act states harm includes all harmful conduct and in particular includes:
4. Factors which may indicate harmful behaviour towards an adult at risk
4.1 These can include one or a combination of the following actions. The following indicators must, however, be used only as a guide.
4.2 Harm can be a single or repeated act or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust, which causes harm or distress to an adult. It can take the form of physical, sexual, emotional, psychological or domestic abuse, acts of neglect or omission, financial and material abuse and the withholding of information. The abuse can be multiple, involving some or all of the above.
4.3 Harm can occur in any setting: when an adult lives alone or with a relative; within nursing, residential, supported living or day care settings; in hospitals, custodial situations, support services in people’s own homes and other places previously assumed safe, or in public places.
4.4 Staff will be aware that adults using Stepping Stones for Families service(s) might have come to the service because they have been subject to harm
4.5 Alternatively, adults might be at risk of harm after they come to the service, for example from
4.6 On some occasions the perpetrator of the abuse might be at risk of abuse themselves; such as a service user who regularly becomes inebriated and puts other service users or members of staff into a state of fear. All parties involved can be considered as being potentially at risk however the person behaving abusively can also be treated as an adult at risk.
4.7 There is an expectation where the perpetrator of abuse is a member of staff that an internal investigation will not take precedence over reporting concerns to allow an investigation by Social Work Services and/or Police. The procedure outlined at Section B sets out the reporting guidelines.
5. Types of Harm
5.1 Physical Abuse- involving actual or attempted injury to an adult defined as at risk. For example:
5.2 Emotional/Psychological Abuse- resulting in mental distress to the adult at risk. For example:
5.3 Financial or Material Abuse- involving the exploitation of resources and property belonging to the adult at risk. For example:
5.4 Sexual Abuse- involving activity of a sexual nature where the adult at risk cannot or does not give consent. For example:
5.5 Neglect and acts of omission by others charged with the care of the adult, including ignoring medical or physical care needs. For example:
5.6 Exploitation- the deliberate targeting of vulnerable adults for personal benefit.
5.7 Discriminatory abuse- for example, treating one service user less favourably than another.
5.8 Information abuse- deliberately giving erroneous information or withholding information.
5.9 Human rights abuse- for example deprivation of a right to family life or to a fair hearing.
5.10 Multiple Forms of Abuse- This may occur in an ongoing relationship or service setting or to more than one person at a time. It is important therefore to look not only at a single incident, but to also consider the underlying dynamics and patterns of harm
5.11 Random Violence- An attack by a stranger on an adult defined as at risk is an assault; this is a criminal matter and should be reported to the Police. However, where there is the possibility that the violence may be part of a pattern of victimisation in a community or neighbourhood, local authority Adult Protection procedures may also apply in respect of effective multi-agency intervention.
5.12 Domestic Violence- Strathclyde Police define domestic violence as “any form of physical, non-physical or sexual abuse which takes place within the context of a close relationship committed either in the home or elsewhere”. In most cases this relationship will be between partners (married, cohabitating or otherwise) or ex-partners.
The similarity between the above acts of harm in relation to adult protection is recognised. However, the key factor in relation to activating adult protection procedures in such situations is that the victim (or suspected victim) must be an adult at risk of harm as defined in The Act.
6.1 As an allegation of abuse can come to the notice of any member of staff at any time, all staff members will receive training in Adult Protection Procedures, either as part of an initial induction, or as part of an ongoing training programme.
6.2 Employees / volunteers will be made aware of the existence of the Adult Protection Policy and Procedure, and their responsibilities in relation to the Adult Protection process:
6.3 Staff can access this policy at all times at the following location.
7.1 There is a clear requirement across agencies to co-operate in relation to the protection of adults seen to be at risk of harm. Stepping Stones for Families will ensure appropriate mechanisms are in place for staff to report any concerns to Social Work Services and/or the Police, as may be appropriate in the circumstances. Stepping Stones for Families will also ensure that appropriate mechanisms are in place in relation to any ongoing involvement and assistance by us, in consultation with the relevant statutory agencies, towards effective risk management and continuing support to the service user.
7.2 To ensure appropriate protective measures can be put in place, it is recognised that confidential information will need to be shared with other workers, managers and other agencies on a “need to know” basis.
7.3 Stepping Stones for Families staff have a duty to report concerns about an adult thought to be at risk of harm (as defined in the ASP Act).
7.4 Where an adult is seen to be at risk of harm, this will always override a professional or organisational requirement to keep information confidential, subject to the provisions of the Data Protection Act 1998. It is the responsibility of those employed or involved with Stepping Stones for Families to take appropriate action to ensure the adult deemed to be at risk is protected from harm.
8 Principles of Reporting and Information Sharing
8.1 The protection of adults at risk of harm is placed above all other operating principles and supersedes the principle of confidentiality. Any concerns a member of Stepping Stones for Families staff may have regarding the safety and well-being of an adult at risk of harm should be brought to the attention of their line manager/named person immediately.
8.2 Although it is recognised that a service user’s privacy must be protected at all times, in situations where abuse is suspected, there must be free communication between participating agencies throughout the investigation. Under no circumstances will information on an adult be withheld from Social Work Services because the holder of the information thinks that it might compromise a third party. If a staff member is given information relating to adult abuse ‘in confidence’ they must make clear that any information relating to adult or child abuse must be passed on to Social Work Services and/or Police for investigation.
8.3 In all cases of suspected adult abuse, it must be recognised that children involved in the situation might also be at risk and that Child Protection Procedures might have to be invoked.
8.4 If the adult is profoundly deaf and requires the services of a sign language interpreter or communication support worker, one should be appointed to work with the adult. This should be arranged in consultation between Stepping Stones for Families and social work as appropriate. Other forms of assistance to communication should be utilised if the adult cannot communicate using speech.
8.5 If the adult does not have English as a first language and requires the services of an interpreter, an interpreter from the Interpreting Service should be appointed to work with the adult. This should be arranged in consultation between Stepping Stones for Families and social work as appropriate.
8.6 Using a member of the adult’s family as an interpreter or communication support worker should be avoided.
9 Named Person
9.1 Stepping Stones for Families acknowledges that having a specific member of staff as a named person/post in respect of adult protection is good practice. Our named person/post will be a manager within the organisation who has sufficient knowledge/expertise to deal with any concerns raised.
9.2 Stepping Stones for Families recognises that providing a named person ensures that all allegations of abuse are reported to a central point to allow a consistent response and to maintain an overview of reports from staff. Concerns can then be passed on quickly and appropriately.
9.3 The named person/post will monitor issues and detect trends as these occur.
9.5 In the event that the named person / post is not available the senior worker/depute will stand in.
B. Stepping Stones for Families ADULT PROTECTION PROCEDURE
1.1 This procedure details the action you should take on suspecting harm or poor practice to ensure the welfare and safety of adults at risk of harm.
2. Responsibilities of Stepping Stones for Families staff
2.1 Any report that an adult may be at risk of harm, including anonymous referrals, should be taken seriously. All cases should be considered with an open mind. In all instances, the information given must be reported immediately to your line manager/named person.
In the event that the named person / post is not available the senior worker/depute will stand in.
2.2 In the event that you become aware that an adult may be at risk of harm or you are told directly by a service user that they are being/have been abused, you should be aware that the adult may be feeling vulnerable or upset when disclosing this information.
2.3 You should be supportive and reassure the adult by listening carefully, but do not ask unnecessary questions. It is not your role to investigate.
3.1 You should advise the adult that the information will have to be passed on to your line manager/named person and that Social Work Services may be required to investigate further.
3.2 When you feel it is appropriate to leave the service user who is disclosing the abuse, the information given by the service user should be passed on immediately to your line manager/named person.
3.3 Where you are concerned for the immediate safety and well-being of an individual, contact emergency services i.e. ambulance and Police immediately. Do not delay. You can contact your line manager/named person once you are satisfied that the person is safe.
3.4 If you suspect that a criminal act has been committed, for example in cases of physical or sexual abuse, you should contact the Police immediately and steps should be taken to preserve evidence. You can then contact your line manager/named person.
3.5 If there is no line manager/named person available on the day when the abuse is detected, you must contact Social Work Services at the appropriate office to report your concerns.
3.6 If you are unhappy with the response from your line manager/named person, you should contact Social Work Services at the appropriate office and outline your concerns and the basis for them.
3.7 If you are unhappy with the response from Social Work Services you can raise this through the Complaints procedure and/or the Care Commission ( SCSWIS).
NOTE: You should follow the above procedure for all instances of suspected abuse, for example where you become aware of
4.1 Write down the nature of your concern and anything the person may have told you using, as far as possible, the words used by the person. Remember to sign and date the notes taken. This information will form the basis of the referral, and will also be required if there is an investigation.
4.2 This information will be kept and securely stored in the locked cabinet. Your line manager/named person will determine who this information can be shared with, will maintain an overview of reports from staff, monitor issues and detect trends as these occur.
5. Responsibilities of Stepping Stones for Families Manager/Named Person
5.1 Referral: The line manager/named person will telephone the relevant Social Work Services location and give details of the alleged abuse. In accordance with the Multi Agency Adult Protection Procedures, the information should be followed up in writing within 24 hours.
5.2 Where information is given to your line manager/named person out of hours it must be passed to the Social Work Services Standby Service.
5.3 The line manager/named person making contact with Social Work Services and/or the Police must make a note of the following:
5.4 Where the adult at risk is care managed by a local authority other than South Ayrshire Council, the line manager/named person should contact the care manager in that local authority immediately.
5.5 In all cases of suspected adult abuse, it must be recognised that children involved in the situation might also be at risk and Child Protection Procedures might have to be invoked.
6. Role of Senior Managers Social Work Services
6.1 All concerns of an adult protection nature should be reported to the relevant Social Work Services office. Social Work Services will seek to allocate the matter to a member of their staff who has sufficient knowledge and expertise to deal with any concerns raised. It will be the responsibility of the designated Stepping Stones for Families manager to ensure that all instances of alleged or suspected harm to an adult seen to be at risk and requiring protection are treated seriously and that appropriate liaison with Social Work Services and/or the Police is effected.
7. Allegations Involving Staff
What if it is someone within Stepping Stones for Families that you are concerned about?
7.1 If you have observed Stepping Stones for Families staff acting in a way that has caused you to be concerned you should contact your line manager/named person outlining your concerns and the basis for them. They will take your concerns seriously, make appropriate enquires into them and thereafter decide on the appropriate course of action.
7.2 If your concerns are about your line manager/named person, then you should inform the Chief Executive Officer at the Paisley office. You can also contact social work directly to pass on your concerns and seek further advice.
7.3 In situations where the alleged abuser is a member of staff, Stepping Stones for Families Investigatory and Disciplinary Procedures should be followed, but will not supersede an adult protection referral to and investigation by statutory agencies. In other words, care must be taken to ensure that implementation of any internal procedures (for example, fact finding) does not undermine or impede any investigation by statutory agencies. Advice should be sought from Social Work Services before proceeding.
7.4 In such cases the Scottish Social Services Council will be contacted at the discretion of the appropriate Manager from Stepping Stones for Families. The decision will be recorded in the staff members’ personnel file in the Unit and in their Corporate Personnel file.
(NOTE: Staff can use the processes outlined in the organisation’s Whistleblowing policy and procedures)
8 Frequent Complaints without Foundation
8.1 A situation where a service user makes frequent complaints alleging abuse, which after full investigation are found to be vexatious, cannot be ignored. In such cases it is good practice to always follow the above reporting procedures. The allegation must be reported to their care manager and the pattern of allegations must be reviewed regularly in case abuse is taking place.
9.1 Once they have received a referral, it is the duty of Social Work Services to make enquiries and to investigate matters of concern in relation to the protection of an adult deemed to be at risk of harm as defined by the legislation. Where it is alleged that a crime has been committed against the adult, investigation is likely to be progressed jointly in consultation with the Police.
9.2 The investigating officers may need to speak to the staff member from whom the concerns originated. Managers and staff of Stepping Stones for Families will co-operate fully with any Police or Social Work Services enquiries, and managers will ensure staff are facilitated in this.
9.3 The line manager/named person will take advice from the investigating officer about the suitability of seeking an Advocacy Worker or and Appropriate Adult to work with the adult.
9.4 The Care Commission (SCSWIS)will be contacted by Stepping Stones for Families line manager/named person to report incidents of abuse within the service.
10. Supporting the Adult at Risk of Harm
10.1 It is important that all employees and those involved directly with the adult seen to be at risk of harm act throughout in a facilitating and supportive manner. Staff should avoid being judgemental and should not introduce personal or third party experiences of harm. Every effort should be made to enable the adult to express their wishes and to make decisions to the best of their ability where appropriate, but, within a duty of care, the overriding concern is the protection of the adult from harm.
10.2 The person you are supporting is likely to continue to be involved with Stepping Stones for Families following the reporting of the concerns. Links should be maintained with the Social Work Services office involved in any investigation, in order to offer the appropriate support to the service user.
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