Report 41: Prevention in adult safeguarding - Emerging evidence
Powys Adult Protection Committee: Keeping Safe training
Mick Collins, Policy and Development Manager, Powys Social Services Department shares the work over many years in Powys to offer workshops on keeping safe, first for people with learning disabilities, then for people with mental health problems and now with older people.
Over the past eight years, Powys Adult Protection Committee (APC) has been bringing together a range of partner organisations to develop Keeping Safe training for adult at risk.
Training for people with learning disabilities began in 2003/04 with the establishment of a steering group that included Coleg Powys (which has a history of offering courses for people with learning difficulties), Dyfed Powys Police, Victim Support and Social Services day service staff. The college developed the course programme, drawing on material from mandatory training for health and social care staff provided by Powys APC. It was important to repeat and reinforce the messages with regular and top-up sessions. The steering group were aware that some of those attending might disclose incidents of abuse during the course, and so Victim Support and Powys Social Services both provided support staff. The course was delivered in weekly afternoon sessions, and it ran as a pilot for three terms.
The course was then refined to become year two of a broader course programme, which ran one afternoon a week for three years, until around two years ago. It began with training on self-awareness and self-confidence, which proved to be an important introduction for some students.
Now, the work has moved on further. From 2011, People First (a national organisation run for and by people with learning disabilities) will provide the training on keeping safe, following a Train the Trainer course to support this initiative. People First developed and successfully piloted the course in Carmarthenshire.
In 2005, Powys APC turned their attention to people with mental health problems. The partners in this work included the same experienced independent trainer who had worked on the learning disabilities work, the local Mind and community mental health team to identify and support the students. This course now runs as a series of eight or ten once-weekly workshop sessions. Ten courses have been run in a range of community service settings since it began. Providing a free lunch always helps to encourage attendance.
One of the major themes to come from the work with people with mental health issues is the overpowering fear of retribution and powerlessness among participants, much of which related to experiences on acute hospital wards. For this group, it has proved to be even more important to establish a safe, trusting and sharing learning environment.
Coleg Powys funded the courses for people with learning difficulties on all of its three sites across Powys. Resources required for the training include the presence of support workers at each session.
Powys Social Services funds the workshops for people with mental health problems and has agreed to fund People First to run the training with people with learning disabilities now.
What's worked wellOpen
Powys APC are pleased with the success of the Keeping Safe training. Students with learning difficulties developed their own keeping safe strategies and personal safety plans. Meeting regularly for a full academic year, people with learning difficulties gained confidence and found the sessions a safe place to learn and explore the issues. The new model, involving people with learning disabilities providing the training, is a great development.
For people with mental health problems it has been crucial to provide a trainer with the ability and experience to respond to the varying needs of individuals and groups. Also, he has worked with a co-facilitator from each of the various services where he has provided training. The groups have often developed a cohesion and peer support that they have wished to continue and build on after the workshops with the help of the co-facilitator.
Initially, the Keeping Safe training with people with mental health problems was modelled on the training course with people with learning disabilities, but organisers found they needed to change their approach: they began to offer taster sessions to attract participants, and then ran a series of workshops rather than 'courses'.
Advice for othersOpen
The Keeping Safe training for people with mental health needs has been evaluated. Findings included restricting the group size to a maximum group size of 10, the importance of meeting on neutral territory away from services and agreeing plans for dealing with disclosures in advance, such as having support workers present for each session.
Careful planning, appropriate support and having a very experienced, intuitive and flexible trainer for this range of work has been critical. The same trainer, Mel Walford, has been involved throughout the Keeping Safe work.
Think from the start about ways of enabling a group to continue meeting if they wish to do so.
Powys APC has also developed a pilot project of Keeping Safe training for older people. This time the steering group has included Age Concern, the Local Health Board and care home provider BUPA. Age Concern volunteers have been trained to deliver talks about keeping safe to groups of older people.