Report 41: Prevention in adult safeguarding - Emerging evidence
Coventry City Council’s Promoting Independent Living Service: workshops on keeping safe for tenants
April Dearden, Community Resource Manager at Coventry City Council's Promoting Independent Living Service, shares her experience of hosting workshops on dignity and safeguarding for people with learning difficulties conducted in 2010.
Coventry City Council's Promoting Independent Living Service (PILS) runs 12 supported tenancy homes for 51 tenants and has over 100 staff. Tenants range from people with quite mild learning difficulties to people with complex needs who lack capacity.
PILS knew that it had to be able to demonstrate to the Care Quality Commission and Supporting People programme how it was enabling people to become aware of, and act on, incidents of abuse. As a service, they had found that staff were reluctant to 'blow the whistle' on colleagues on a couple of occasions. This made them think that tenants too might feel quite scared of raising issues, and would need support and encouragement to do so. PILS were already training staff on safeguarding on a regular basis – so it made sense to take up the same issues with tenants.
The PILS team decided to run two workshops for tenants under the banner of 'Providing personalised services'. The two workshops were run on the same day in September 2010. One was on safeguarding and the other on dignity. In the first, the aim was to explore people's knowledge about what constitutes abuse and whether they would know what to do about it. The second focused on issues of dignity and respect, which PILS believe are essential underlying factors in abuse prevention. Beforehand, April worked with the Council's Employee Development Unit to devise the programme and met with the independent facilitator to explain what they wanted to achieve from the day.
As part of the day's programme, PILS distributed a survey to assess people's views of the service, and the independent facilitator helped them to complete it. The survey invited the tenants to rate the service on six dimensions: caring, involvement, coaching, honesty and fairness, open communications and ethics. Interestingly, the staff and tenants rated the service in completely different ways.
A total of 17 tenants participated on the day, with managers present to support people if necessary. Support workers were not involved in case it made it difficult for the tenants to speak openly. In addition, they planned for the possibility that someone might disclose abuse on the day by ensuring staff were available at the end of the day to take appropriate action.
The main expense for the workshops was the facilitator, although staff time was another resource both during and after the day in order to support people. The workshops were paid for with funding originally intended to cover a staff away day.
What's worked wellOpen
Did the workshops achieve their aims? 'Without a shadow of a doubt,' says April. People enjoyed the day and managers were able to demonstrate that tenants were aware of abuse and able to act on their concerns. All but one of the tenants rated the workshops positively, and particularly enjoyed the opportunity to be served tea by managers!
Other work has fed into the workshop's success. As part of the Department of Health's dignity challenge, that people should 'feel able to complain without fear of retribution', PILS introduced a system where tenants can complete a form to request a meeting directly with a senior manager at any time if they are concerned about anything. The idea is to enable tenants to be able to report concerns without fear of retribution. And in another related development, Coventry City Council produced a user-friendly guide on safeguarding for people with learning difficulties, Keeping you safe, which is available on the Council's website.
For now, the PILS team have not worked out how best to approach the same issues with their tenants who lack capacity, but they plan to work on this during 2011.
Advice for othersOpen
Definitely use an independent facilitator. In this context, knowing the audience too well could have hindered the process, and they may not have felt able to speak openly about members of staff.
Use graphics to help communicate issues with people.
Make sure that you agree a process in advance should a disclosure of abuse be made on the day, and have contingency plans for extra support should anyone need it.
PILS plan to run the workshops again in autumn 2011.
PILS is also building on the success of the workshops through its work with the Tenants Forum which meets bi-monthly. The Forum is developing a mission statement for PILS, and they are also working on developing the service's policies and procedures.
April Dearden, email: firstname.lastname@example.org