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Stage Four: Strategy Discussion or Meeting

RELATED GUIDANCE

See also Summary of Stages and Timescales of the Safeguarding Process Table

This chapter was added to the manual in April 2015.


Contents

  Purpose of the Safeguarding Strategy
  Strategy Meetings and Strategy Discussions
  Responsibility for Coordinating the Strategy Process
  Involvement of the Care Quality Commission
  Involvement of Independent Advocates in the Safeguarding Process
  Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCA) and Safeguarding Adults
  Appropriate Person to Facilitate Involvement in the Safeguarding Process
  Involvement of Alleged Perpetrators in Strategy Discussions
  Decisions on the Involvement in Strategy Discussions of a Service Implicated in the Abuse
  The Safeguarding Strategy Plan


Purpose of the Safeguarding Strategy

Following the Decision made in Decision Stage  the purpose of a Strategy Discussion/Meeting is to:

  • Decide who is leading the investigation;
  • Ensure a robust plan to safeguard the Adult and any other adults is in place.


Strategy Meetings and Strategy Discussions

The strategy will be defined most effectively by gathering information from all the relevant people. This can be in the form of a Safeguarding Adults Strategy Meeting.

On other occasions it will be necessary, and more effective, to formulate the initial strategy through a virtual meeting conducted via the telephone, e-mails, etc.

This is called a Safeguarding Adults Strategy Discussion.

All information known about the situation should be shared in accordance with the Information Sharing and Checklist and Confidentiality Procedures.

The timing of Safeguarding Strategy Discussions/Meetings will be determined by the level of risk presented and in any case will be completed within five working days of the Referral being made.


Responsibility for Coordinating the Strategy Process

A manager from the local authority will be responsible for coordinating the strategy process and for ensuring that all relevant agencies are included.


Involvement of the Care Quality Commission

Where an allegation of abuse is made concerning an adult who may be at risk living in a private, voluntary or local authority care (nursing or residential) home or is supported by a domiciliary care agency, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) must be consulted and invited to any Strategy Meeting or be involved in a Strategy Discussion. In such cases full details should be emailed, subject to the availability of secure e-mail, or mailed to the CQC. See also Dealing with Allegations (Against Staff and Volunteers, Informal Carers, Family and Friends) Procedure.


Involvement of Independent Advocates in the Safeguarding Process

The Care Act 2014 places a duty on the local authority to arrange, where appropriate, for an independent advocate to represent and support an adult who is the subject of a safeguarding enquiry where the adult has ‘substantial difficulty’ in being involved in contributing to the process and where there is no other appropriate adult to assist. A person who is engaged professionally to provide care or treatment for the adult in question cannot be an advocate.

The adult must also consent to being represented and supported by the advocate (or where the adult lacks capacity, the local authority must consider it in that adult’s best interests to be represented and supported by the advocate).

This duty to provide an independent advocate is separate from the power of the local authority to provide an Independent Mental Capacity Advocate (IMCA) in safeguarding enquiries where someone lacks capacity to fully participate (see Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCA) and Safeguarding Adults). Both these provisions are in recognition of the importance of providing support and representation for people who have experienced abuse and neglect. The IMCA can support and represent an adult of abuse and neglect, where necessary and appropriate. The local authority is not required to provide two different advocates. It is not likely to be in the adult’s interest to do this.

(For more information on the role of Independent Advocates in the Safeguarding Process See also Support for those involved in the Safeguarding Adult Process Procedure).


Independent Mental Capacity Advocates (IMCA) and Safeguarding Adults

IMCAs are required where it is proposed that an incapacitated adult receive/undergo serious medical treatment, or move to a care home for more than 8 weeks Local authorities and the NHS have powers to instruct an IMCA to support and represent a person who lacks capacity where:

  • It is alleged that the person is or has been abused or neglected by another person;
  • It is alleged that the person is abusing or has abused another person.

Local authorities and the NHS can only instruct an IMCA if they propose to take, or have already taken, protective measures. In safeguarding adult cases, access to IMCAs is not restricted to people who have no one else to support or represent them. People who lack Capacity and who do have family and friends are entitled to have an IMCA to support them in the Adult Safeguarding process. The decision-maker must be satisfied that having an IMCA will benefit the person. Where the person is to be detained or required to live in accommodation under the Mental Health Act 1983, an IMCA will not be needed since the safeguards available under the Mental Health Act will apply.


Appropriate Person to Facilitate Involvement in the Safeguarding Process

The Care Act 2014 requires local authorities to consider whether there is an appropriate person who can facilitate an adult’s involvement in the safeguarding process. The legislation contains three requirements:

  1. It cannot be someone who is already providing care and treatment in a professional capacity or on a paid basis (regardless of who employs or pays them). That means it cannot be, for example, a GP, or a nurse, a key worker or a care and support worker involved in the adult’s care or support;
  2. The adult who is the subject of the Safeguarding Enquiry has to agree to the person supporting them, if the adult has the capacity to make this decision. Where an adult with capacity does not wish to be supported by a relative, for example, perhaps because they do not wish to discuss the nature of the abuse with them, then the local authority cannot consider the relative to be an appropriate person to act as the adult’s advocate. The adult who is the subject of the enquiry has to agree to the appropriateness of the supporter. If the adult in question does not have the capacity to consent to being represented or supported by a particular person, then the local authority has to be satisfied that it is in the adult’s best interests to be supported and represented by the proposed person;
  3. The person is expected to support and represent the adult and to help their involvement in the processes. In some circumstances it is unlikely that they will be able to fulfil this role easily; for example, a family member who lives at a distance and who only has occasional contact with the adult; a spouse who also finds it difficult to understand the local authority processes, or a friend who expresses strong opinions of their own, prior to finding out those of the individual concerned. It is not sufficient to know the adult well; the role is to actively support the adult’s participation in the process.

(For more information on the role of the Appropriate Person in the Safeguarding Process please see Support for those involved in the Safeguarding Adult Process Procedure).


Involvement of Alleged Perpetrators in Strategy Discussions

An alleged perpetrator will only be included in Strategy Discussions in very exceptional circumstances and with the agreement of the Chair. This must also be with the informed consent of the adult who is at risk (where they have mental Capacity). Any such decision will be clearly documented by the Chair and safeguards put in place to ensure any Safeguarding Plan is not jeopardised. Where police are the lead agency in a suspected criminal investigation, the alleged perpetrator shall be excluded from all Strategy Discussions/Meetings.

Where the person who is alleged to have carried out the abuse themselves has care and support needs and are unable to understand the significance of questions put to them or their replies, they should be assured of their right to the support of an ‘appropriate’ adult if they are questioned by the police under the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 (PACE). Victims of crime and witnesses may also require the support of an ‘appropriate’ adult.


Decisions on the Involvement in Strategy Discussions of a Service Implicated in the Abuse

Where a service is implicated in abuse/neglect, a Strategy Discussion will be held with the Regulatory Body and service commissioners; and a decision made as to whether a representative of the service can appropriately be involved in all or part of the strategy process. This includes a judgment as to whether they are likely to be implicated as party to the alleged abuse/neglect. Where police are the lead agency in a suspected criminal investigation, the implicated service shall be excluded from all Strategy Discussions/Meetings.


The Safeguarding Strategy Plan

A Strategy Plan will be produced which will:

  • Conclude if further action is needed based on information and evidence gathered from all parties;
  • Identify action required to address immediate risk to the adult concerned;
  • Describe an interim Safeguarding Plan; including actions to ensure the immediate safety of the adult;
  • Identify any specific coordinated action required in respect of the alleged perpetrator to minimise risks to victims, witnesses and whistle-blowers;
  • Determine a plan for carrying out the Safeguarding Assessment which will include:
    • Identification of the agency with the appropriate legal powers and responsibilities to lead any investigation or assessment;
    • In cases where a joint investigation is necessary, an agreement between the respective agencies as to their respective roles;
    • A plan for communication between agencies;
    • Identification of staff to undertake the assessment.

A written record will be made of discussions and meetings, using the agreed format. The strategy will aim for minimal interruption to the services being provided to an individual, or a group of people, during any Safeguarding Assessment.

Strategy Discussions/Meetings will determine whether senior managers and/or internal press officer/department needs to be alerted to any possible media interest.

A record of Strategy Discussions or Meetings will be sent to all relevant agencies within 5 days of the strategy being completed.

Outcome

A plan is formulated for carrying out the Safeguarding Assessment plan.

End