Report 41: Prevention in adult safeguarding
Information, advice and advocacy
'Advocacy services may be preventative in that they can enable adult at risk to express themselves in potentially abusive, or actually abusive, situations.'
Accessible information and advice are essential building blocks for prevention of abuse and for backing up public awareness campaigns. However, one size does not fit all. Information about abuse and what to do about it needs to reach all different sectors of the community through a range of different routes.
Advocacy can make a significant contribution to prevention of abuse through enabling adults at risk to become more aware of their rights and able to express their concerns.
Information and adviceOpen
Several papers point to the importance of providing accessible information to enable people to understand the issues but also, crucially, to be able to know and understand their rights; see (36), (3), (6), (7). Kalaga and Kingston suggest that there are a number of providers of this information and advice, including voluntary sector organisations as well as statutory providers.(7) CSCI recommended that local authorities specifically target clear and easily accessible information at people covered by safeguarding procedures, including those not using services and people paying for services themselves.(3)
The provision of clear and accessible information about the services that exist and what they can offer people is noted for preventing abuse by family carers. Ansello and O'Neill recommend policies that implement information-sharing to be targeted at carers as a means of ensuring that they know what sources of support exist in order to alleviate pressure and reduce isolation.(32)
Does information work for all?Open
There is some evidence that this area of prevention work is operating differently for different groups. For example, CSCI found that the information circulated by local authorities to people who use services is not reaching people with mental health problems, people who use alcohol or drugs, people from black and minority ethnic communities or people who self-fund.(3) There is also evidence that people who direct their own support or receive personal budgets need particular support and information on safeguarding. (5)(2)
In addition to this, in 20 per cent of the services CSCI studied, people could not remember receiving or understanding information about what to do if they had concerns about abuse.(3) This highlights the importance of the quality and relevance of the information in reaching its intended audience.
Kalaga and Kingston and Blood also point out that different groups of people access information and advice resources to different effect.(7)(37) For example, people with learning disabilities and older frail people may not access domestic abuse services, at least in part because these services are not equipped to deal with adults with specific or complex needs. Kalaga and Kingston further point out the important empowering role that may be taken by interpreters, in facilitating access to information, advice and support services and in conjunction with advocacy services.
Given the above difficulties for people in accessing information and advice, advocacy assumes an important role in enabling people to know their rights and voice their concerns. CSCI found that people value advocacy support, but that as many as 58 per cent of local authorities inspected had noted shortfalls in advocacy provision.(6)
Kalaga and Kingston point to advocacy as one of the ways of supporting and protecting adult at risk.(7) Advocacy services may be preventative in that they can enable adult at risk to express themselves in potentially abusive, or actually abusive, situations. Equally, their presence in enabling people to express themselves in other situations (for example when their needs are being discussed or at times of transition) may contribute to building confidence more generally and hence be preventative.
In relation to the prevention of further abuse, Hester and Westmarland found that in the projects they evaluated advocacy was the main intervention used to support women following domestic violence. They suggest that advocacy can assist women to move towards self-advocacy and independence.(4)