Safeguarding adults: Mediation and family group conferences

Case study: Simon and Amanda

Simon and Amanda Leigh are in their eighties. They have one son, Peter, and a daughter, Mary, who lives close by.
Simon and Amanda are both in poor health and live in their own home. There is a history of verbal and physical abuse in both directions between the couple and this has been investigated through the local authority adult safeguarding procedures.
Amanda frequently calls the police after the couple have had a violent argument, but when they arrive, both Simon and Amanda refuse to cooperate and deny there are any problems at home. There are concerns about Simon’s safety in particular as he is becoming increasingly infirm.

The social worker, Jas, wishes to refer Simon and Amanda for FGC because she thinks it will help to improve the situation.

The referral

Jas is satisfied that Simon and Alice have the capacity to decide whether to engage with the FGC process and Simon and Amanda agree to the referral.

Preparation for the FGC

Simon and Amanda agree to Mary and Peter attending, and also request that a friend from their local church, Michael, is invited.
FGC coordinator Steve suggests that an independent advocate for each of them may be helpful, particularly given the poor communication between them. Both Simon and Amanda accept the offer and Steve arranges for advocates to meet each of them separately before the FGC takes place.

Steve visits Mary, Peter and Michael to prepare them for the meeting.

The FGC meeting

Information sharing

Simon and Amanda each have a few moments alone with their advocate before the meeting starts. Ground rules are established and agreed.

Jas presents the issues and concerns that she believes need to be addressed and the resources that are available.
The manager of the care agency is also present and explains the role of carer workers who visit daily, and their concerns when they are turned away.

Everyone has an opportunity to ask questions to gain as much additional information as possible before private family time.

Private family time

The family, (which includes Michael), is left alone to develop a plan.The advocates remain with Simon and Amanda for a few minutes, to support them to give their views they then withdraw, but remain nearby so that they can be called upon if needed. After a short while the family asks the coordinator and referrer to go back in to clarify the conditions of the home support, and ask if it is possible to change it. Once they have the information they need, family members are once more left alone to continue deciding their plan.

Agreeing the plan

The family’s plan is presented to Steve and Jas. In it, Simon and Amanda:

Mary agrees to take each of her parents out on their own on alternate weeks.

Jas agrees the plan and the services and resources needed to make it work. Steve sends a copy to all of the participants. The family is offered a review FGC to monitor how well the plan is working.

The review meeting

The plan is reviewed three months after the first FGC meeting. All of the participants, including the advocates, attend.
Simon and Amanda say that communication between them is better, which reduces tension at home. Jas says that care workers are no longer being turned away, and that Simon and Amanda are more accepting of support.