SCIE press release

Tackling the abuse of adults

14 September 2012

How to use mediation and family group conferences for those at risk

Adults who face abuse, and their families, can be empowered to work out solutions for their own problems. One way to support people is to offer mediation and family group conferences (FGCs). From today there is extra support for practitioners with the launch of a web resource along with an At a glance briefing from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

At present the use of these approaches for safeguarding adults is very limited. Mediation and family group conferences place the at-risk person at the centre of the decision-making process. They may also prevent abuse occurring, by empowering families to address tensions at an early stage. SCIE's new web pages include a handy list of resources, where templates, flowcharts and evaluation forms can be downloaded.

All responses to allegations of abuse must follow safeguarding policies and procedures. The range of responses may include 'harder' ones, such as the involvement of the police or courts, through to 'softer' ones, where working closely with the family adequately addresses concerns. Mediation and FGCs should be part of the range of options available, and can support a more person-centred approach to safeguarding.

SCIE's Chief Executive, Andrea Sutcliffe, says:

These approaches can be very supportive to practitioners as part of the options open to them for safeguarding adults at risk. SCIE has developed these new resources to help practitioners to understand these approaches and the benefits that they can bring. I would strongly encourage local authorities to consider mediation and family group conferences as options when responding to safeguarding alerts.

What is mediation and family group conferencing?

Mediation is usually made up of a series of facilitated meetings, where people agree to discuss areas of difficulty or dispute. Family group conferences have traditionally been used in work with children and families where there is a risk of care proceedings occurring. There is increasing evidence that they can be helpful in adult safeguarding. A trained mediator or a FGC coordinator can support the at-risk person and their family, or the wider support network. This way they can reach an agreement about why the harm occurred, what needs to be done to repair the harm and what needs to be put into place to prevent it from happening again.

These approaches offer people a way to take control of their situation, and to resolve issues within the family unit. The controlled environment provided can keep people safe, especially when there are strained family relationships. These approaches can help local authorities to promote choice and control, whilst at the same time fulfilling their statutory obligations to protect people from risk of abuse and harm.


Media contact

Steve Palmer | Press and Public Affairs Manager | Tel: 020 7766 7419 | Mob: 07739 458 192 | Email: