Every day across the UK some ‘adults at risk’ will experience some kind of abuse, ill treatment or neglect. The process of helping those adults to keep themselves safe or putting in place plans to help protect people who cannot protect themselves, is called ‘adult safeguarding’. This is a shared responsibility for a number of statutory agencies including the council.
An adult at risk is someone over the age of 18 who needs care or support to help them live an independent life.
Bracknell Forest Council is the lead agency for adult safeguarding work across the Borough. The council works with statutory, private and voluntary sector organisations to promote awareness of the safeguarding agenda and review the multi-agency adult safeguarding policy and good practice manual.
What do we know?
Adult abuse can happen anywhere at anytime; it can happen to people in their own home, or in a care setting or hospital.
Whilst anyone can be a potential abuser, it is more often the case that it is someone who is known to the adult at risk.
Abuse can take many forms:
Physical Abuse examples of this are: being hit or injured on purpose, restraining someone inappropriately.
Emotional Abuse such as, intimidation, threats, humiliation, extortion, racial, verbal or psychological abuse
Sexual Abuse i.e. involvement in a sexual activity which is unwanted or not understood, unwanted sexual attention.
Neglect examples of this are, not providing food, clothing, attention or care. Withholding of aids or equipment (continence, walking, hearing, glasses), putting someone at risk of infection, failure to provide access to appropriate health or social care.
Financial Abuse such as, the theft or misuse of money, property or personal possessions. Pressure in connection with wills, property or inheritance.
Discriminatory Abuse i.e., treating people differently or worse than you would want to be treated because they are older, more frail, confused or otherwise vulnerable.
Facts, figures and trends
Data* collated from Health and Social Care Information Centre and Public Health England shows that:
- 63% of Bracknell Forest service users report feeling safe. This is lower than the England average. However 84% of Bracknell Forest service users reported that the services they received made them feel safe, which is higher than the national average.
- 81% of people receiving an Adult Social Care service in Bracknell Forest received a review of their service during 2013/14. This is higher than the national average.
There has been an increase in the number of alerts received year on year since 2010/2011.
- 2010/2011 -155 alerts were raised
- 2011/2012 – 338 alerts were raised
- 2012/2013 – 425 alerts were raised.
- 2013/2014 – 738 alerts were raised.
The increase in alerts is not necessarily an indicator that more abuse is happening in Bracknell Forest. However it is an indicator that awareness of adult safeguarding is increasing across the local community and within the workforce.
Not all safeguarding alerts are substantiated or partially substantiated. However, during 2013/2014, where abuse was substantiated or partially substantiated, 49% (46 cases) of abuse was as a result of neglect, 17% (16 cases) was as a result of physical abuse and 29% (27 cases) was as a result of emotional abuse or financial abuse.
There are a number of reasons as to why adults at risk are suffering neglect, such as:
- People not being supported to access appropriate care and support
- People being deprived of appropriate care and support
- The quality of care and support that is commissioned (this means what the individual, the council or the NHS buy as a service) is not of an acceptable standard.
National & local strategies (current best practices)
The Berkshire Safeguarding Adults Policy and Good Practice Manual is a pan Berkshire policy that provides members of the public with a guide to identifying abuse and how to report it. It also provides health and social care practitioners with a wealth of guidance and knowledge regarding safeguarding processes, legislation relating to safeguarding and information regarding how and when to share information.
This has been developed by the Bracknell Forest Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board and seeks to deliver two key aims.
- To empower all Bracknell Forest residents who may be at risk of abuse or neglect (now or in the future) to be aware of their rights and where to receive help, support and advice.
- To reduce the number repeat safeguarding referrals (a repeat referral is when the Council is contract on more than one occasion during the year, and both referrals relate to safeguarding concerns).
The strategy has an action plan attached which identifies key activity that will enable the aims of the strategy to be delivered. The Board monitors the delivery of the action plan which will be delivered in full by 31st march 2014.
Hate crime is any crime where a person is targeted because of their age, disability, gender, race or ethnicity, faith or sexual orientation. The Bracknell Forest Community Safety Partnership has a dedicated work stream focused on addressing issues of hate crime within the local community.
What is this telling us?
Whilst much work has been done to raise awareness of the adult safeguarding agenda across Bracknell Forest, there remains further work to do. The direction of travel set out by both Government and the Bracknell Forest Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board places an emphasis on multi agency working, with a focus on developing personalised responses and outcomes to safeguarding concerns.
Therefore the expectation on local practice is that the person to whom the concern relates is at the centre of the decision making process, and where they are not able to participate (due to lacking mental capacity) all decisions taken are done so in line with the requirements of the Mental Capacity Act 2005.
What are the key inequalities?
Further work is needed to ensure safeguarding messages are accessible to hard to reach groups. Safeguarding alerts regarding people from non white British background are lower than expected given the demographics of Bracknell Forest.
What are the unmet needs/ service gaps?
The use of advocacy within the safeguarding assessment process requires further embedding into main stream practice. This is an integral part of ensuring personalised responses to safeguarding alerts, and outcomes are developed in partnership with the adult at risk.
Recommendations for consideration by other key organisations
The Bracknell Forest Safeguarding Adults Partnership Board publishes an annual report: this includes a development plan, which highlights the key actions required by agencies represented on the board. The implementation of the development plan is monitored by the board thought-out the year and reported on in the following years annual report.