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Adults Allegations

Care and support statutory guidance

Updated 17 August 2017

Carers and safeguarding

14.45 Circumstances in which a carer (for example, a family member or friend) could be involved in a situation that may require a safeguarding response include:

  • a carer may witness or speak up about abuse or neglect
  • a carer may experience intentional or unintentional harm from the adult they are trying to support or from professionals and organisations they are in contact with
  • a carer may unintentionally or intentionally harm or neglect the adult they support on their own or with others

14.46 Assessment of both the carer and the adult they care for must include consideration of the wellbeing of both people. Section 1 of the Care Act includes protection from abuse and neglect as part of the definition of wellbeing. As such, a needs or carer’s assessment is an important opportunity to explore the individuals’ circumstances and consider whether it would be possible to provide information, or support that prevents abuse or neglect from occurring, for example, by providing training to the carer about the condition that the adult they care for has or to support them to care more safely. Where that is necessary the local authority should make arrangements for providing it.

14.47 If a carer speaks up about abuse or neglect, it is essential that they are listened to and that where appropriate a safeguarding enquiry is undertaken and other agencies are involved as appropriate.

14.48 If a carer experiences intentional or unintentional harm from the adult they are supporting, or if a carer unintentionally or intentionally harms or neglects the adult they support, consideration should be given to:

  • whether, as part of the assessment and support planning process for the carer and, or, the adult they care for, support can be provided that removes or mitigates the risk of abuse. For example, the provision of training or information or other support that minimises the stress experienced by the carer. In some circumstances the carer may need to have independent representation or advocacy; in others, a carer may benefit from having such support if they are under great stress or similar
  • whether other agencies should be involved; in some circumstances where a criminal offence is suspected this will include alerting the police, or in others the primary healthcare services may need to be involved in monitoring

14.49 Other key considerations in relation to carers should include:

  • involving carers in safeguarding enquiries relating to the adult they care for, as appropriate
  • whether or not joint assessment is appropriate in each individual circumstance
  • the risk factors that may increase the likelihood of abuse or neglect occurring
  • whether a change in circumstance changes the risk of abuse or neglect occurring

14.50 A change in circumstance should also trigger the review of the care and support plan and, or, support plan. Further information about these considerations can be found in an ADASS paper on carers and safeguarding.


Case study

Mrs D lives with her husband, B. B has a long term brain injury which affects his mood, behaviour and his ability to manage close family relationships. This has often led to him shouting and hitting out at his wife, who is also his main informal carer. Mrs D told a professional who was involved in supporting her that she was becoming increasingly frightened by B’s physical and verbal outbursts and at times feared for her personal safety.

Other family members were unaware of the extent of the harm and that Mrs D was exhausted and considering leaving the situation. The local authority became involved.

The situation presented significant personal risk to Mrs D but there was also a risk of fragmenting relationships if the local authority staff were not sensitive to the needs of the whole family. The practitioner, under supervision from her social work manager invested time in meeting with Mrs D to explore her preferences around managing her safety and how information about the situation would be communicated with the wider family and with B. This presented dilemmas around balancing the local authority’s duty of care towards

Mrs D with her wishes to remain in the situation with B. Placing emphasis on the latter inevitably meant that Mrs D would not be entirely free from the risk of harm but allowed the practitioner to explore help and support options which would enable Mrs D to manage and sustain her safety at a level which was acceptable to her.

The practitioner received regular supervision to allow time to reflect on the support being offered and to ensure that it was ‘person centred’. The outcome for Mrs D was that she was able to continue to care for B by working in partnership with the local authority. The practitioner offered advice about how to safely access help in an emergency and helped her to develop strategies to manage her own safety – this included staff building rapport with B, building on his strengths and desire to participate in social activities outside the family home. The effect of this was that some of the trigger points of him being at home with his wife for sustained periods during the day were reduced because he was there less.

Mrs D also had a number of pre-existing support avenues, including counselling and a good relationship with her son and her friends. The situation will be reviewed regularly with Mrs D but for the time being she feels much more able to manage.

Responding to abuse and neglect in a regulated care setting

14.68 It is important that all partners are clear where responsibility lies where abuse or neglect is carried out by employees or in a regulated setting, such as a care home, hospital, or college. The first responsibility to act must be with the employing organisation as provider of the service. However, social workers or counsellors may need to be involved in order to support the adult to recover.

14.69 When an employer is aware of abuse or neglect in their organisation, then they are under a duty to correct this and protect the adult from harm as soon as possible and inform the local authority, CQC and CCG where the latter is the commissioner. Where a local authority has reasonable cause to suspect that an adult may be experiencing or at risk of abuse or neglect, then it is still under a duty to make (or cause to be made) whatever enquiries it thinks necessary to decide what if any action needs to be taken and by whom. The local authority may well be reassured by the employer’s response so that no further action is required. However, a local authority would have to satisfy itself that an employer’s response has been sufficient to deal with the safeguarding issue and, if not, to undertake any enquiry of its own and any appropriate follow up action (for example, referral to CQC, professional regulators).

14.70 The employer should investigate any concern (and provide any additional support that the adult may need) unless there is compelling reason why it is inappropriate or unsafe to do this. For example, this could be a serious conflict of interest on the part of the employer, concerns having been raised about non-effective past enquiries or serious, multiple concerns, or a matter that requires investigation by the police.

14.71 An example of a conflict of interest where it is better for an external person to be appointed to investigate may be the case of a family-run business where institutional abuse is alleged, or where the manager or owner of the service is implicated. The circumstances where an external person would be required should be set out in the local multi-agency procedures. All those carrying out such enquiries should have received appropriate training.

14.72 There should be a clear understanding between partners at a local level when other agencies such as the local authority, CQC or CCG need to be notified or involved and what role they have. ADASS, CQC, LGA, NPCC (formerly ACPO) and NHS England have jointly produced a high level guide on these roles and responsibilities. 54 The focus should be on promoting the wellbeing of those adults at risk.

14.73 Commissioners of care or other professionals should only use safeguarding procedures in a way that reflects the principles above not as a means of intimidating providers or families. Transparency, open-mindedness and timeliness are important features of fair and effective safeguarding enquiries. CQC and commissioners have alternative means of raising standards of service, including support for staff training, contract compliance and, in the case of CQC; enforcement powers may be used.

14.74 Commissioners should encourage an open culture around safeguarding, working in partnership with providers to ensure the best outcome for the adult. A disciplinary investigation, and potentially a hearing, may result in the employer taking informal or formal measures which may include dismissal and possibly referral to the Disclosure and Barring Service.

14.75 If someone is removed by being either dismissed or redeployed to a non-regulated activity, from their role providing regulated activity following a safeguarding incident, or a person leaves their role (resignation, retirement) to avoid a disciplinary hearing following a safeguarding incident and the employer/volunteer organisation feels they would have dismissed the person based on the information they hold, the regulated activity provider has a legal duty to refer to the Disclosure and Barring Service. If an agency or personnel supplier has provided the person, then the legal duty sits with that agency. In circumstances where these actions are not undertaken then the local authority can make such a referral.

The Disclosure and Barring Service

The Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) helps employers make safer recruitment decisions and prevent unsuitable people from working with vulnerable groups, including children. It replaces the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) and Independent Safeguarding Authority (ISA).  DBS is an executive non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Home Office.  Please follow this link to the disclosure and barring service (DBS)

Disclosure-and-barring-service