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Professional Abuse: Allegations Against Persons Working with Adults at Risk

Reporting Concerns

Any allegation of abuse must be reported to the worker's line manager or senior manager. If the manager is implicated in the allegation, the concern must be reported to a senior manager or the designated / named person for safeguarding Adults at Risk in that agency.

A record of the report, which is timed, dated and includes a clear name or signature must be made.

The recipient of an allegation must not unilaterally determine its validity, and failure to report it in accordance with procedures is a potential disciplinary matter.

Any member of staff who believes that allegations or suspicions, which have been reported to the appropriate manager, are not being investigated properly has a responsibility to report it to a higher level in her/his agency or directly to the Local Authority lead for Managing Allegations (see Local Contacts).

The Local Authority lead must be told of all allegations that come to the employer's attention.

If, for any reason, there are difficulties with following the above procedure, the Whistleblowing Procedure should be considered or a referral made directly to Adult Social Care under the Stage One: Raising an Alert/Duty to Enquire and/or the police.

Initial Consideration of Allegation

An allegation may require consideration from any of the following four inter-related perspectives:

  • Safeguarding Assessments by Adult Social Care about whether an adult needs protection or services;
  • Criminal investigation by the police;
  • Staff disciplinary procedures of the employing agency;
  • Complaint procedures of the employing agency.

Where a member of staff, carer or volunteer is implicated in a case of alleged abuse, immediate discussion will take place between the employer and Adult Social Care. The police and health care providers should also be involved as appropriate.

A Strategy Meeting will be convened immediately in accordance with the Stage Four: Strategy Discussion or Meeting Procedure.

The Strategy Meeting (preferably with a dedicated minute taker) must:

  • Review any previous allegations made against the worker and the establishment;
  • Decide whether there should be a Safeguarding Assessment and/or an internal disciplinary investigation;
  • Consider the implications arising from the police decision whether or not to investigate an allegation of crime;
  • Allocate tasks;
  • Set time-scales;
  • Decide who to inform.

Where the allegation or concern relates to an adult in a Regulated Activity, for example, a residential care home or nursing home or adult placement scheme or is supported by a domiciliary care or nursing agency, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as the Regulatory Body, should be informed and invited to the Strategy Meeting.

Managing Issues relating to the Subject of the Allegations

The employer should, following consultation with Adult Social Care and the Police where appropriate, inform the subject of the allegations. If it is deemed appropriate to conduct an investigation prior to informing those who are implicated, a clear record needs to be made of who took the decision and why.

Suspension of the employee concerned from his or her employment should not be automatic, but should be considered if:

  • There is cause to suspect an Adult at Risk has suffered abuse or neglect; and/or
  • The allegation warrants investigation by the police; and/or
  • The allegation is so serious that it might be grounds for dismissal.

Where an investigation requires the suspension of the member(s) of staff implicated, the appropriate employer's procedures must be followed.

This will include consideration of whether a referral should be made to the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) because the person concerned is considered unsuitable to work with Adults at Risk.

The subject of the allegations should be:

  • Advised at the outset to contact her/his union or professional association;
  • Treated fairly and honestly and helped to understand the concerns expressed, processes involved and possible outcomes;
  • Kept informed of the progress of the case and of the investigation;
  • Clearly informed of the outcome of any investigation and the implications for disciplinary or related processes;
  • Provided with appropriate support (via occupational health or employee welfare arrangements where these exist);
  • (If suspended) kept informed about workplace developments.

Resignations and Compromise Agreements

All allegations should be followed up regardless of whether the person involved resigns her/his post, responsibilities or a position of trust, even if the person refuses to co-operate with the process.

'Compromise agreements', where a person agrees to resign without any disciplinary action and agreed future reference, must not be used in these cases.

Substantiated Allegations

If the allegation is substantiated and the person is dismissed or the employer ceases to use the person's services, or the person resigns or otherwise ceases to provide her/his services, the Local Authority lead for Managing Allegations should discuss with the employer whether a referral to Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) is required, or advisable, and the form and content of such a referral.

The Local Authority lead for Managing Allegations  should also advise whether it is appropriate to make a referral to a professional body or regulatory body e.g. the Health and Care Professions Council, General Medical Council, Care Quality Commission (CQC), etc.

If a referral is appropriate, it should be made within one month of the conclusion of the case.

If an allegation is substantiated, the employer should review the circumstances of the case to determine whether there are any improvements to be made to the organisation's procedures or practice to help prevent similar events in the future.

Unsubstantiated Allegations

Where, following initial enquiries, it is concluded there is insufficient evidence to determine whether the allegation is substantiated, the chair of the Strategy Meeting will ensure relevant information is passed to the employing agency. The relevant senior manager of that agency will consider what further action, if any, should be taken in consultation with the Local Authority lead for Managing Allegations.

The member of staff concerned must be notified in writing of the outcome and the service-user and his/her relative should also be informed of the outcome.

Appendix 1: Initial Response: Allegations / Concerns regarding Staff and Volunteers who work with Adults at Risk Flowchart

Click here to view Appendix 1: Initial Response: Allegations / Concerns regarding Staff and Volunteers who work with Adults at Risk Flowchart