Report 41: Prevention in adult safeguarding
'Community outreach [is identified] as one of four approaches to preventing elder abuse in nursing homes.'(45)
Both services and individuals benefit from having contact with a range of people in the community. Reducing isolation through links with the community can mean that there are more people who can be alert to the possibility of abuse as well as provide links to potential sources of support for adults at risk and family carers.
The case for engagementOpen
Several authors have pointed to the value of ensuring that care services have strong links to the wider community – both for the sake of the organisation itself and the individual users of the service. This theme is most frequently mentioned in relation to preventing isolation and abuse within residential settings, but it has also been raised in connection with caring relationships in the community where both a family carer and the person using services can become isolated.
CSCI pointed to the importance of a wide range of people taking part in the daily life of a care home, in particular for the potential they have to pick up on and prevent abuse and poor practice.(6) Payne and Fletcher identified community outreach as one of four approaches to preventing elder abuse in nursing homes. They recommend building good relationships with community-based groups and organisations as well as with the local police to improve safety.(45) As explained earlier, the work of Marsland et al emphasised the dangers of isolated services and the importance of methods to counter this.(29)
Ansello and O'Neill suggest that all of the various people and services likely to enter into the life of a adult at risk need to be made aware of the potential for abuse in that person's life – a point that links back to raising public awareness about abuse. In discussing the abuse of older people with lifelong disabilities, they point out that each of the 'agents' who may enter a person's life is 'potentially a support for the person's growth and a monitor against abuse, neglect and exploitation'.(32)
Wilson et al refer to the 'familiar territory of isolation within, and social exclusion from, community networks' as a factor that makes people vulnerable to financial abuse.(23)
Links for family carersOpen
Choi and Mayer emphasise the importance of family carers in the community being informed about existing services and sources of support in order to support their caring role and reduce stress (and thus, prevent abuse).(24) Donohue et al, in their exploration of a social capital approach to preventing 'elder mistreatment', propose that improving the social capital of both care recipient and caregiver will reduce the risk of mistreatment. By 'social capital', they refer to the quality of relationships within the caregiving household as well as relationships with outside sources of support.(28)
Case study: Prevention in the community in SheffieldOpen
Sheffield has a developed system of community assemblies which includes councillors, representatives of local services, including the police, and members of the public. The assemblies meet regularly and have some decision-making functions, including the ability to make funding decisions related to small-scale projects in their area. The assemblies routinely address matters such as community safety (for example, bullying and harassment) and preventative approaches to safeguarding.
Roshni – a support group for South Asian women whose first language is not English – is an example of an preventative initiative supported by a community assembly. Typically, these women have been isolated with little access to help or advice around day-to-day issues related to health and general wellbeing. With funding from their local community assembly, Roshni has met for several years, supported by a paid facilitator. The group share concerns (some of which may relate to an individual's safety) in a supportive environment, and this sharing has resulted in a number of reports to the Safeguarding Adults Board.
Further information Cath Erine, Adult Safeguarding Coordinator email: firstname.lastname@example.org