Report 41: Prevention in adult safeguarding - Emerging evidence
Shropshire Partners in Care: Keeping Yourself Safe course
Karen Littleford, Adult Protection Training and Development Worker at Shropshire Partners in Care, a not-for-profit organisation representing independent providers of care for adults within Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin, explains their 'Keeping Yourself Safe' courses for people with learning disabilities.
Shropshire Partners in Care (SPIC) have developed a training course, 'Keeping Yourself Safe: Understanding and reporting abuse' for people with learning difficulties in partnership with Shropshire Council and Taking Part, a self-advocacy group for people with learning disabilities. Karen co-facilitates the training with Mary Johnson, Staff Development Officer for Learning Disabilities at Shropshire Council, and a course participant who has gone on to be a co-trainer on the courses.
Karen and Mary ran the course as a pilot in February 2009. They have now run it six times and involved 85 people with learning disabilities and 21 support staff. Participants come from a range of services such as day services, community living and Shared Lives (adult placements). Karen and Mary are currently planning a pilot course with the independent sector.
According to Karen, the training 'sits alongside' the safeguarding process: people need to understand their rights and understand what abuse is in order to be able to report incidents. The two-day course is based closely on the adult protection training delivered to staff teams, with the information presented in more accessible formats, for example using visual aids, case studies and group activities. The course explains local adult protection procedures, including how people who use services should be involved in the various stages. Participants hear about the impact of abuse and each person develops their own safety plan.
Taking Part offer support to service users both during and after the course, as issues might emerge once participants have had the chance to reflect on what they have learnt. As Karen points out, 'We may never see that person again so knowing that they are supported afterwards is essential.'
Funding has been provided through Shropshire Council's Adult Protection training budget. Both facilitators work in roles that include safeguarding in their remit. Other costs include the support from Taking Part during and after the course and room hire.
What's worked wellOpen
Each course has been evaluated by learners and the course has been changed as a result. Participants have said that having access to the training has made them feel valued, and they appreciate the fact that the training is essentially the same as the adult protection training with staff. The facilitators have also fed back issues concerning the adult protection process based on group discussion during the training courses. This has included making formal referrals to the adult at risk Safeguarding Board (Shropshire and Telford & Wrekin).
Managers have reported anecdotes of where people with learning disabilities who attended the training have subsequently been able to challenge when they felt they were being treated inappropriately. This is an encouraging outcome in relation to prevention.
Some agencies resisted getting involved at the start of the project, due to concerns it would result in an increase in adult protection referrals. This is not supported by current evidence, although it is not an easy thing to monitor.
Advice for othersOpen
Financial abuse is an important element to cover in the training, and one of the surprising things to emerge was the lack of awareness about it among participants. The course enabled people to discuss situations where their friendship could be exploited to another person's financial advantage.
A supportive framework for the training is essential as people may identify and disclose abuse as the course unfolds. Support staff are expected to participate as learners in addition to supporting others.
The Keeping Yourself Safe training continues, with further courses scheduled for 2011.
SPIC is considering extending the training to older people's services. For now, SPIC will continue to lead an awareness raising event every June in partnership with Shropshire Council and Telford & Wrekin Council to commemorate World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. This aims to encourage organisations to engage with people who use services to raise awareness.