In October 2012 CPEA Ltd worked with SARCP (Staffordshire Association of Registered Care Providers) to run a workshop on working together to keep people safe. The day was attended by many providers and health and social care agencies from Stoke and Staffordshire. Vic Citarella, company Director of CPEA Ltd chaired the day and speakers included the Chair of the local Safeguarding Boards and safeguarding and other social care professionals. Claire Crawley from the DofH provided an update of progress at a national level to agree a definition of safeguarding. Pat Bailey, from CPEA, reminded us that the role of the registered manager is to champion, lead and protect and it is important to raise the profile of the manager as lead professional, responsible and accountable. Reviewers and regulators will not embed good practice as this is the key role of managers and a basic fundamental if we want to improve practice.
Citation, a company providing HR support, demonstrated the differing advice available from CQC, within No Secrets, The Government Guidance on protecting vulnerable adults and employment law. Essentially in a case of harm or risk of harm CQC advice, and generally the local authority, is to suspend the employee immediately but employment law warns against a knee jerk reaction, that suspension isn’t always appropriate and investigation should take place in a timely manner. It is the employer’s responsibility to suspend staff, based upon their investigation, and also their duty to report conclusions to the relevant professional bodies. The role of a good employer is to undertake any actions in a proper and proportionate manner and Claire Crawley said we need responsible and capable providers to do this.
A major concern amongst providers is the suspension of contracts and that this should only happen when there are serious risks and then local authority representatives need to tell providers what they are doing and why. Sarah Hollinshead Bland, Commissioner Adult Safeguarding in Staffordshire County Council explained that contracts are often suspended during large scale investigations and placements can re-commence when the investigation has concluded and required improvements in practice can be sustained.
Key messages from the day were
• The Safeguarding framework is about improving wellbeing and Adult Protection investigation is just one aspect of the safeguarding process. Many practice concerns are now falling into safeguarding processes and this was on the increase. Managers said if they tried to argue they were told they were failing to act. Social workers couldn’t cope with this increase in activity and whilst they were dealing with safeguarding they were not carrying out personalised assessments and reviews.
• Those investigating safeguarding/abuse allegations, however important they perceive their investigative role, are not outside the general law and have to have proper regard to and for those who face allegations and natural justice whereby there should be no bias against the accused, that there is a right to be heard, to know the case against you, what the evidence is, what statements have been made and a fair opportunity to correct or contradict.
• There are occasions when negotiation is appropriate; that not all bad practice should lead to safeguarding scrutiny. Remember - residents in care homes can be subject to more abuse by poor safeguarding procedures and actions.
Janet Pearson, Director, CPEA