SCIE opinion - 24 May 2011

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Photograph of Elaine Cass

Adult safeguarding - the latest

Elaine Cass, Practice Development Manager

This month I've been working on a guide to help commissioners and care homes with the issues that most commonly lead to safeguarding alerts. It is clear that most safeguarding activity in care homes occurs as a result of poor practice and poor quality of service rather than malicious intent. The impact of poor practice and neglect, however, can be just as significant as intentional abuse. The good news is that it is arguably easier to prevent. We've been making a new Social care TV film about safeguarding in a care home that looks at some of the issues.

If you ask care home providers or safeguarding leads about abuse they will talk about physical abuse between residents, mistakes with medication and pressure sores. If you ask people using the service they are more likely to tell you that there is not enough choice so they just have to take what they can get. They'll tell you about how they are treated by the staff or that they can't get out or see their friends because there aren't enough staff to support them. So the difference in priorities for staff and residents remains an issue and a cause for concern.

I know it is not rocket science but it boils down to the quality of the staff and that means good recruitment and training. I was listening, the other day, to Sir Roger Singleton CBE, Chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority. He highlighted recruitment practice as a major issue. How often at interview do home managers check the values and attitudes of potential staff? That's what really counts - what do you see when you look at a resident who is old and frail? Do you see them as a person with a history, a family, achievements, hobbies and interests. If those providing services could truly put themselves in the shoes of those receiving them we'd be a lot nearer to good quality services that keep people safe and happy.

We have a lot of safeguarding work going on at SCIE on; prevention of abuse; listening to service users; commissioning care homes; and the use of family group conferences in adult safeguarding. The key message throughout is that it is much better for all concerned to prevent abuse, through good quality services, than to respond to it.

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