Working together over safeguarding

Featured article - 04 June 2019
By Betty Du. Safeguarding Strategy Lead, Practice Development Team, the Office of the Public Guardian

Betty Du, Office of the Public Guardian

Improving how the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) supports people at risk

The Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) has an important role in protecting people in England and Wales who do not have the mental capacity to make health and financial decisions for themselves. At the ADASS spring seminar in April, the Public Guardian launched OPG’s safeguarding strategy. This new strategy supports OPG’s existing safeguarding policy and emphasises the importance of working with other agencies who have a duty to protect people at risk of abuse or neglect.

The safeguarding strategy is not a radical change but a stepping up of our role in working with partner agencies to better support and protect people at risk. It sets out goals that OPG will work towards to improve the safeguarding service we offer to our service users, people who may lack mental capacity.

The goals are:

  • Help our safeguarding partners understand more about what we do
  • Work more closely with safeguarding partners
  • ‘No wrong door’ approach for all safeguarding concerns reported to us
  • Working culture which puts the safeguarding needs of the user first
  • Greater support for our users.

How can we work together?

Our research has shown that some safeguarding practitioners do not fully understand the role OPG plays in protecting those who may lack mental capacity. As we don’t have a frontline presence in communities, most of our investigations begin after we receive concerns from members of the public or professionals.

If professionals don’t know how to assess the validity of a lasting power of attorney (LPA) or how to search our register to find out if an adult at risk has appointed someone to support their decision-making capabilities, this lack of awareness can present a risk to the level of protection that we can offer to people at risk.

Here are some practical steps that you can take to work closer with OPG

If working with an adult at risk, search our register to find out if they have a power of attorney or a deputy court order. If they do, please consult their attorney or deputy where appropriate.

If presented with a LPA, enduring power of attorney (EPA) or deputy court order, please use our guide to check its validity.

Contact us immediately, if you spot signs of abuse or neglect by an attorney or deputy.

If you would like to know more about OPG’s safeguarding strategy, please email our Customer Relationship Management team at customerrelations@publicguardian.gov.uk

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