Safeguarding adults: Mediation and family group conferences

Published: September 2012

Since our family conference I have found the strength and support to move on with my life. I'm a different person now.

Older victim of domestic abuse at Daybreak

Mediation and family group conferences are two methods used to try to empower people to work out solutions to their own problems. Mediation is usually a series of facilitated meetings where people agree to discuss areas of difficulty or dispute. Family group conferences (FGCs) have historically been used to work with children and families where there is a risk of care proceedings. There is increasing evidence that they can be helpful in adult safeguarding.

A trained mediator or FGC coordinator can support the at-risk person and their family or wider support network to 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 resolve issues within the family unit – often in the context of strained relationships – in a safe and controlled environment.

For mediation and FGCs to work, local authorities need to promote choice and control at the same time as fulfilling their statutory obligations to protect people from risk of abuse and harm.

SCIE’s report looks at research evidence about what works in mediation and family group conferencing.