Published: 16 November 2021

Community Southwark’s Safeguarding Leaders Network and the Consortium of Older People's Services in Southwark (COPSINS) come together and created change in the Adult Social Care’s referral processes!

#SafeguardingAwarenessWeek: 15-19 Nov 2021

Working in the Voluntary and Community Sector, we often come across individuals who are at risk, and we have a duty to refer this as concern to Adult Social Care. For many, navigating that system has not been easy, which is an issue that was raised at a COPSINS meeting in December 2020.

There are systems in place to ensure support is prioritised for people who are deemed the most at-risk. This is determined by thresholds existing around the Care Act 2014. Unfortunately, there are many who are referred who just will not meet these criteria.

At times, referrers were left with an ambiguous response about the potentially at-risk adults not meeting the required threshold, with no further information about what this threshold is, or where to go next.

This process is not new to many community organisations, who are fully aware of safeguarding measures and the adults who would qualify for support. The numerous complaints raised at Safeguarding forums were predominantly centred around referrers not hearing back about the outcomes of their raised concerns, and people getting lost in the system.

CEO of Age UK Lewisham and Southwark, Ross Diamond, is Community Southwark’s VCS Rep for Safeguarding Adults Board, and the COPSINS lead partner. He was a bridge to represent the views of various Southwark organisations within these forums at the December meeting.

Tara Osbourne-Wallace, representative of Southwark Adult Social Care team, was present at this meeting to engage with the organisations and get feedback on service improvements. Credit can be given to Tara for initiating change in her teams based on these concerns, to ensure that referrers (including those in the voluntary sector) are always given feedback.


The change

Effective from 24th May 2021, on the safeguarding concern form and the safeguarding enquiry closure form, she has added a mandatory tick box that the manager has to tick to confirm that the safeguarding officer has provided feedback to the referrer. As it is a mandatory field, the safeguarding forms cannot be closed until this has been ticked/confirmed. More recently, a further change has also been made where the safeguarding officer must evidence in the safeguarding form, who they have provided feedback to, and by what method.

This should mean that:

Once a decision has been made at the concern stage about if the case will progress to an enquiry or not, the referrer should receive feedback about this decision.

If the case progresses to an enquiry, the referrer should receive feedback about the outcome of the enquiry before the case is closed.

Tara has encouraged members of these forums to share with her if there are any examples of this not happening going forward, so it can be flagged to the relevant service managers to further explore.


The power of collaboration

This win demonstrates the power of collaboration and networks; coming together to speak authoritatively on behalf of the whole sector and influence the decisions that matter.

Thank you to members of our Safeguarding Leaders Network, Chair of the network, Sarah Gibb, as well as Stevie Back, former Safeguarding Lead at Community Southwark.

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Safeguarding Support

Safeguarding is all about having the knowledge and awareness to understand various types of abuse, being able to identify the signs and what to look for; knowing what steps to take if you suspect abuse is happening and knowing what to do if a child or an adult discloses abuse.

Understanding the safeguarding agenda will also help ensure your organisation works responsibly and safely, without placing staff in vulnerable positions.