Safeguarding Adult Reviews (SARs) In Rapid Time

As part of Department of Health and Social Care’s COVID-19 Action Plan for Social Care, SCIE is working with Safeguarding Adult Boards (SABs) to develop and test a new model for turning around Safeguarding Adult Reviews in rapid time. This responds to a need identified by SAB Chairs and NHSE Safeguarding Adults National Network (SANN).

This introduction provides the background to this work, explains the need for rapid learning in the COVID-19 pandemic, the approach taken and how you can get involved. It is aimed at SAB Chairs and partners, SAB Business Managers, SAR Subgroup members as well as reviewers.

The need for a rapid review process

COVID-19 creates a new urgency to identifying and sharing learning from certain cases.

Ways of working and staffing arrangements are changing so a rapid review process is needed to enable system learning to be identified and shared beyond the location of the incident.

It should aim to:

  • identify learning from incidents of abuse or neglect that occur in the new coronavirus context
  • share that learning nationally.

The level of other demands on people’s time and resources across partnerships means the review process needs to be proportionate but nonetheless enable local, regional and national systems to identify and share learning from safeguarding incidents. This is needed to help minimise the risks of any individuals being harmed through abuse or neglect in the evolving coronavirus context.

As we move out of acute COVID-19 phase, the sector is also anticipating a surge in safeguarding cases, concerns and work as the lockdown is eased. There is a need to consider how to evaluate the trauma, neglect, abuse, exploitation and violence which is happening behind closed doors. Good practice should be identified, shared and amplified to build recovery and resilience. Systemic weaknesses should also be identified to ensure timely and effective help.

The Care Act does not specify the nature and form of SARs, so flexibility in process already exists. What is not yet available is a practical process or tools to support a speedy turnaround of learning.

SCIE support

As part of the COVID-19: Action plan for social care, DHSC has funded SCIE to provide support to Safeguarding Adults Boards and partners by:

  • producing guidance and templates for the SARs In Rapid Time process and outcomes
  • supporting familiarisation with the process with webinars, and remote support
  • liaising with SABs to enable the submission of SARs In Rapid Time reports to the national SAR library
  • routine collation of learning from SARs In Rapid Time submitted
  • producing and disseminating regular learning briefings.

Phase 1: Collaborative development of a new In Rapid Time process

For the first phase of this work, SCIE is working with a small number of Safeguarding Adult Boards and partners to test out a prototype rapid review process. The aim is to conduct four to five pilot rapid reviews on cases that the SAB has identified a need for learning. This may be because the case meets the criteria for a Safeguarding Adult Review or it may be for other reasons.

For the test SARs In Rapid Time, SCIE provides the facilitation capacity and expertise. The expectation is that the SAB will agree to SCIE writing up the process and outputs, and reflections of participants.

Subsequently, SABs will need to provide and cost their own reviewers. SCIE will be a point of contact for support, and a source of written guidance and webinars.

Building on the available knowledge base

The process and templates being developed are anchored in the principles of good practice captured in the Safeguarding Adult Review Quality Markers. They will be compatible with the evolving national SARs library. The set up will create a distinction between case findings and systems findings, that is:

  • the evaluation of practice in the case being reviewed
  • the systems findings that help us understand the social and organisational factors that impact on work with people beyond this single case.

The priority is on gaining qualitative understanding of the enablers and barriers to appropriate, good quality and timely work with people needing care and support.

The goal is to have adequate consistency in presentation of the learning from SARs In Rapid Time that comparing and collating findings is straightforward. We are not expecting SARs In Rapid Time to provide learning about the prevalence of types of safeguarding incident, individuals impacted or outcomes.

The SAR In Rapid Time processes will also build on recent developments in the children’s sector, which provide a useful starting point for thinking about how to optimise quick turnarounds. These have seen a new requirement for ‘rapid reviews’ of all safeguarding incidents to be completed within 15 days – see Child Safeguarding Practice Review Panel: Practice guidance. The new process will also draw on any experiences SABs have had doing rapid reviews, as well as rapid incident analysis methods to improve patient safety

What is a SAR In Rapid Time?

A SAR In Rapid Time aims to have a turnaround time of 15 working days from set-up meeting, held after the decision has been made to progress with a review. An outline of the process is captured in Figure 1.

Standardised processes and templates support this speedy turnaround.

The process will be supported by remote meeting facilities and not require any face-to- face contact.

Figure 1: Outline of a SAR In Rapid Time
Schedule Process
Day 1 Set up meeting
Days 2–7 Check agency records
Days 8–11 Produce early analysis report to structure discussion
Days 11–12 Participants read report in preparation
Day 13 Structured multi-agency discussion
Days 14–15 Systems finding report

Set-up meeting

Below are ten questions to structure discussions to set up a SAR In Rapid Time. Through the test SARs In Rapid Time we hope to refine and improve the structure of the set-up meeting.

  • Can you give a brief summary of the case?
  • Why is there an urgency to identify and share learning from this case?
  • What are the wider systems issues or areas that we want to learn about?
  • Do these issues require direct participation of frontline practitioners in the review process and/or strategic leads of relevant agencies/sectors?
  • .What time period of the case do we need to look at to explore these issues?
  • Which agencies/individuals need to participate?
  • What further information needs to be gathered from the relevant agencies?
  • What vulnerabilities, sensitivities and/or tensions are there for individuals and agencies around this case?
  • Do we know who needs to be informed from the person, their representatives, advocates or family members? What options can we offer them for contributing to the SAR In Rapid Time?
  • What are our agreed timescales, actions and next steps?

How you can help at this stage

Please get in touch if you have:

  • experience of rapid incident review processes in any context to share
  • questions or concerns about a SAR In Rapid Time process
  • a SAR where you need to urgently identify and share learning
  • interest in potentially joining a group of early users of the SAR In Rapid Time process
  • anything else you want to tell us.

Please contact us to get in touch with us or if you would like more information.


Turn around your urgent SARs in rapid time: New tools and support for SABs
Recording 25 August 2020, 11.30am – 2.30pm