The face-to-face meeting is one of the significant changes to the safeguarding process within the Care Act and introduces fundamental changes to the way in which professional and Adults at Risk work together.
The guidance in this section provides practical steps for professionals undertaking this process.
If the person is known not to have specific capacity to be involved in the safeguarding process then proceed directly to step 6
If it is unclear that the person has specific capacity at the point of the safeguarding concern, during the face-to-face visit, a capacity assessment will be required. This will then require a prompt best interest decision meeting to take place.
If the outcome is the person lacks specific capacity, proceed to step 6 below.
If the result is that the Adult at Risk does have capacity then proceed with the face-to-face interview.
Making Safeguarding Personal Practitioner’s Guidance Notes
Making Safeguarding Personal is a Local Government Association Initiative, which looks at outcomes for Adults at Risk who are subject to a safeguarding Enquiry.
The aim of this guidance is to assist practitioners to focus on the following;
- engage people throughout the process with a focus on outcomes for the Adult at Risk
- making people feel safe
- making people feel empowered and in control
- an asset based approach to help identify individuals strengths and networks
Stage 1: Building a trusting relationship
The first meeting with someone who has reported being abused is crucial. They may have spent many months, even years, plucking up the courage to disclose what happened to them. They may have conflicting feelings - 'I still love the source of harm', 'Am I doing the right thing?', 'Will anyone believe me?'
They may have conflicting fears - 'Will the source of harm take revenge?' 'Will I get into trouble?' 'Will I have to leave my home?'
So the first thing to do is reassure them. Although you will not be able to offer complete reassurance about everything, there are areas where you can.
For example, you should acknowledge the impact the abuse has had on their life; make clear that you take them seriously; tell them it is natural to have conflicting feelings and fears; and say that protection is available. Remain calm and do not show shock; however always take an empathic approach - you are a human being too and not a robot.
Stage 2: Helping people to disclose
Only after establishing this initial acceptance and starting to build trust can you go on and ask for evidence - in a person-centered approach you may have to switch between stages many times as the disclosure of evidence is both therapeutic and cathartic.
You must use the person's own language and constantly check your understanding; don't assume what they think or feel. When you record what they have said, continue to write it in their own words.
Only report what they say, not what you think they mean. The person's account, and your record of it, is important evidence and can make the difference between a successful or negative outcome for them.
Stage 3: Establishing what the person wants
When people disclose that they have been abused they usually want something done about it. It is important to find out what that is and not make any assumptions of what you think they need.
Sometimes they may have a very clear view but often they have not thought that far ahead nor have a number of outcomes in mind, not all of which are compatible or even possible.
Do not leap ahead and immediately discount the unrealistic outcomes, but listen and note. Only then can you begin the task of helping them look towards their future and planning what can happen. Their views on outcomes may change throughout the process.
Stage 4: Personal centered risk management
It is natural that you will want to make the person as safe as soon as possible, but safety is relative.
People often want to be both safe and to maintain unsafe relationships.
There is an important distinction between putting people at risk and enabling them to choose to take reasonable risks. The emphasis must be on sensible risk appraisal, not risk avoidance.
Always look for the least restrictive option and go through the alternatives with the person.
You may need the support of the multi-agency team to analyse the risks and to manage them in a balanced way.
Always appraise the risks with the person and take them through the consequences of the options so that they actively develop their own risk management plan.
The following tool kit and leaflet will support the discussions needed as part of the face-to-face meeting.
Toolkit (for debate/discussion)
1) Mapping tool
The purpose of this tool is to support the adult to identify the people and networks that are important to them/relationships they are involved with and whether these individuals/networks are an asset /and provide help in enabling risk risks to be managed,
Mapping relationships allows the person to take control of the risks in their lives by engaging people/relationships/networks that will be able to assist them to stay safe; it will also provide an opportunity to identify any individuals within their current networks who may be a risk (even if they are not currently identified as the alleged source of harm)
For each area of concern identified and record what the adult feels is working, this may contribute to reducing the risks linked to this concern – is also it possible that the risks may increase depending on the information shared.