This article seeks to explore the difference that adult support and protection legislation may have made to work with adults at risk of harm in Scotland.
The article is based upon findings of a joint academic and practitioner qualitative research project that interviewed 29 social service practitioners across three local authorities.
The legislation was seen as positive, giving greater attention to adults at risk. Views about the actual difference it made to the practitioners' practice varied, and were more likely in new rather than ongoing work. Three differences were noted: duties of investigation, protection orders and improved shared responsibility within the local authority and across other agencies, but to a lesser extent NHS staff. Overall it gave effective responses, more quickly for the adults at risk. Whilst the law brought greater clarity of role, there were tensions for practitioners in balancing an adult's right to autonomy with practitioners' safeguarding responsibilities.
The paper demonstrates that a dedicated law can improve safeguarding practice by clarifying the role of social work practitioners and the responsibilities of other agencies. The right to request access to records and banning orders were seen as valuable new measures in safeguarding adults at risk. As such the study from the first UK country to use dedicated adult safeguarding law offers a valuable insight for policy makers, professionals and campaign groups from other countries, which might be considering similar action.
Mackay, K., Notman, M., McNicholl, J., Fraser, D., McLaughlan, C. and Rossi, S. (2012), "What difference does the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) 2007 make to social work service practitioners' safeguarding practice?", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 14 No. 4, pp. 197-205. https://doi.org/10.1108/14668201211256681Download as .RIS
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