Report 41: Prevention in adult safeguarding
'Raising public awareness of abuse is one of the building blocks for adult protection.'(3)
Public awareness campaigns can make a significant contribution to the prevention of abuse. They are more effective if backed up by information and advice about where to get help and training for staff and services to respond.
Awareness raising to enable staff within services to recognise and prevent abuse is covered under the sections on Training and education, and Policies and procedures,for example campaigns to raise awareness among both staff and clients in a residential setting. Awareness raising to enable adult at risk to recognise and protect themselves from abuse is covered in the section on Training and education.
Public awareness of abuseOpen
According to CSCI, raising public awareness of abuse is one of the building blocks for adult protection. They recommended that local authorities need to do more to, 'raise the profile of every citizen's right to be free from abuse'.(3)
CSCI identified a number of good examples from their study of local authorities running high-profile public campaigns – for example, a mail shot to 90,000 households – to raise awareness of abuse and what can be done about it.(3) Public awareness campaigns need to be linked with information on where to go for help. CSCI also highlighted the need to educate society about 'how to recognise and respond to abusive and harmful situations'.(6)
Awareness of domestic violenceOpen
Public awareness campaigns are particularly highlighted in the prevention of domestic violence and elder abuse.(31, 32, 7) However, it is not always clear that there is evidence that they work to prevent abuse in practice. Several authors suggest that public awareness campaigns work better when backed up by other interventions, for example training of staff; see (31) and (4).
Kalaga and Kingston identify public awareness campaigns to be effective in the primary prevention of domestic violence and physical abuse. They note the success of the Scottish Executive domestic abuse publicity campaign which has been evaluated annually.(7) Leander also advocates public awareness campaigns in preventing domestic violence, although crucially, backed up by the training of healthcare staff to recognise and respond to it.(31)
Hester and Westmarland, in their evaluation of 27 domestic violence projects, recommend awareness raising among children and young people about domestic violence in both primary and secondary schools. However, they suggest that for this to be effective teachers need to feel supported to deal with the issues raised through training and multi-agency links.(4)
Awareness strategies for other types of abuseOpen
Ansello and O'Neill stress the importance of public awareness strategies to highlight the 'conditions, abilities and challenges facing today's older adults with lifelong disabilities'.(32) Kalaga and Kingston identify public health prevention strategies as important in the prevention of sexual abuse, again alongside other intervention programmes (such as education programmes for adult at risk, health and welfare professionals and others).(7)
The emerging literature on disability hate crime also points to the importance of public awareness campaigns. For example, Vincent et al found that awareness of disability hate crime in Northern Ireland among the wider public 'would appear to range from limited to non-existent'. They recommended:
Consideration should be given to developing general awareness of disability hate crime, through advertising campaigns. Any such campaigns must involve effective consultation with individual members of the disabled population.(33)
Awareness of financial abuseOpen
Kalaga and Kingston point out that awareness raising needs to address the current tendency to view financial abuse as a one-off incident rather than an ongoing process of abuse.(7) This obviously affects the ability of all agencies to deal with it effectively. Increasing public awareness of financial abuse has been indicated as effective in reducing it and increasing protection and support for people at risk in the community; see (34) cited in Kalaga and Kingston.(7) McCreadie highlights the relative lack of knowledge within services about how to address financial issues.(35)
Case study: Theatre in BromleyOpen
Bromley restructured its multi-agency Safeguarding Adults Board in 2008 and had its first conference in 2010. Attic Theatre company did a performance at the end of the day on issues of rogue traders and bogus callers. As a Safer Bromley Partnership initiative, Bromley Council's Head of Community Safety funded three further performances by Attic Theatre in the borough, inviting older people, faith groups and other community groups to attend.
Bromley has plans to try this approach again using a similar theatre company to launch the 2011 conference. Looking at prevention and risk, the performance will ask people to think about where their threshold is for appropriate behaviour.
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