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Specific tasks for Safeguarding Adults Boards

Governance, accountability and infrastructure

SABs need to seek the cooperation and collaboration of their member agencies. They may request members to take particular actions. This should be specified in the terms of reference or constitution of the SAB.

The SAB should agree, record and regularly review:

  • the roles and responsibilities of each member or partner, organisation or individual
  • how the SAB is resourced
  • how the SAB should operate
  • any subgroup structure
  • any task-and-finish groups.

Links to other boards and partnerships

The SAB should agree how it will work effectively with other boards and partners including:

  • local safeguarding children boards (LSCBs)
  • community safety partnerships (CSPs)
  • health and wellbeing boards (HWBs)
  • quality surveillance groups (QSGs)
  • domestic abuse forums.

Some local authorities have decided to have a joint chair of both their adult and children safeguarding boards to promote joint working. Some have established a joint adult and children safeguarding board, but generally these have not been considered effective and have not been retained.

Several SABs have developed joint protocols with their local health and wellbeing and safeguarding children boards. Examples of this are protocols developed in Slough/Leicestershire and Hertfordshire. These make explicit:

  • the non-hierarchical relationship between the boards
  • the need to establish processes for the development of strategic plans that recognise and complement each other
  • the process for sharing and commenting on annual reports
  • a resolution process for any issues that might arise between the boards.

Many of these protocols are now being reviewed to see if they can be extended to include other local multi-agency partnerships such as community safety partnerships and domestic abuse forums.

In many areas, agencies that are members of more than one of the above partnerships are represented by the same member of staff.

Issues to consider include:

  • which local multi-agency partnerships should be invited to participate in such a protocol
  • how liaison between boards will be managed
  • how the protocol(s) will ‘add value’ to the performance of all partners and reduce duplication of effort
  • how SABs will need to adjust their processes to reflect the fact that health and wellbeing boards are public meetings
  • how such protocols will operate in two-tier local authorities
  • how overarching strategies such as making safeguarding personal, think family, dignity and respect, and the carers’ strategy will be linked to the work of the board.

Links between Safeguarding Adults Boards and other public protection and safety forums

Multi-agency working, information-sharing and clear and open communication processes are key to good safeguarding practice. There may be overlap between approaches and processes to safeguard people. The SAB should be satisfied that there are clear mechanisms for managing this.

The Care Act 2014 imposes safeguarding duties. The local authority must make enquiries or cause others to do so where it suspects an adult with care and support needs is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect and is unable to protect themselves.

There will be occasions where abuse is from a current or previous intimate partner or family member and therefore comes under the definition of domestic abuse. This may not be life-threatening, but where there is a risk of serious harm or murder a multi-agency risk assessment conference (MARAC) should be held to share information and agree a coordinated, risk-focused safety plan for anyone who may be at significant or serious risk.

Similarly, some of the actual or potential perpetrators of abuse may be subject to multi-agency public protection arrangements (MAPPAs). These are arrangements to manage the risk posed by serious sexual or violent offenders, including those who may also be the subject of a multi-agency risk assessment conference, or an abuser within safeguarding processes.

These processes are separate, but, as with the safeguarding adult process they are multi-agency arrangements and any relevant agency can be asked to:

  • attend a meeting
  • provide information
  • follow through actions from any agreed plan to prevent abuse or protect someone who has been abused.

The differences between each process relate to the involvement of the person who is or might be at risk:

  • In adult safeguarding, the person at risk should, whenever possible, be at the centre of the process from the outset. They should have access to advocacy as necessary, as required by the Care Act and detailed in the statutory guidance, and have the opportunity to attend meetings.
  • For a multi-agency risk assessment conference, the person at risk will be aware of (but not attend) the meeting and will be supported by an independent domestic violence advisor.
  • Under multi-agency public protection arrangements, representatives of responsible or relevant agencies meet and agree plans.

Strategic role

The SAB provides a forum for strategic discussion and agreement on:

  • areas for improvement
  • policy issues
  • guidance for practitioners, commissioners and service providers
  • approaches to self-neglect
  • preventing abuse and neglect
  • addressing antisocial behaviour, hate crime and domestic abuse
  • the respective roles of the board, other boards and partners.

The SAB must publish a strategic plan outlining:

  • how it will achieve its objectives
  • what actions each member will take to implement the strategy.

Although the Care Act 2014 requires a SAB to produce a strategic plan for each financial year, in practice it is likely to be a rolling three- to five-year plan that is reviewed and revised annually.

Assurance role

The SAB must ensure it has arrangements that will enable it to carry out the duties and functions specified under the Care Act. It must have a clear, agreed understanding of the roles, responsibilities, authority and accountability of its member agencies and:

  • suitable governance arrangements including an escalation process for when agreement cannot be reached between members
  • an effective infrastructure
  • links to other boards and partnerships
  • adequate resources
  • opportunities for people with care and support needs and carers to contribute to and inform its work
  • person-centred, outcome-focused safeguarding arrangements and policies
  • ensure that there is awareness training for all health and social care staff and police who work directly with people with care and support needs
  • ensure that there is specialist training for all practitioners who have direct responsibilities for safeguarding work
  • evaluate effectiveness and impact of training
  • a system for agencies reporting to the board on the measures they have in place, how they are working and enable them to respond to challenge from the board
  • a prevention strategy specifying each agency’s responsibilities
  • links with the wider community to inform it of and receive feedback on the work of the SAB
  • arrangements to monitor, evaluate and raise public awareness of adult abuse and neglect and how to respond
  • arrangements to provide advice and support to other organisations to improve their safeguarding mechanisms and activity
  • agreement and guidance on which types of Serious Untoward Incidents in the NHS are regularly reported to the SAB
  • produce Annual Reports, detailing what the SAB and its members have achieved, including how they have contributed to the board’s objectives and what has been learned from and acted upon from the findings of Safeguarding Adults Reviews and other reviews and audits
  • ensure that partner organisations have arrangements for the quality assurance of the effectiveness of their safeguarding work
  • a communication strategy to manage, among other things, the SAB’s contact with other parties including the broader community and the media.

Issues to consider include how the SAB will:

  • balance the competing demands of local, regional and national priorities
  • manage the competing demands arising in large geographical areas
  • take account of cultural diversity
  • manage the interfaces with other boards and partnerships in relation to issues including self-neglect, domestic abuse and disability hate crime
  • manage the use of SAB time between strategic and assurance issues
  • prioritise so that the work of the board is manageable
  • ensure that board members are identified to lead on specific tasks within the strategic plan
  • facilitate communication between the board and people with care and support needs and carers – for example, by appointing an ‘engagement champion’
  • hold agencies to account for their safeguarding work
  • manage conflicts of interest.