Safeguarding practice in England where access to an adult at risk is obstructed by a third party: findings from a survey

Jill Manthorpe (Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London, London, UK)
Martin Stevens (Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London, London, UK)
Stephen Martineau (Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London, London, UK)
Caroline Norrie (Social Care Workforce Research Unit, King’s College London, London, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Publication date: 11 December 2017

Abstract

Purpose

Being able to speak in private to an adult about whom there is a safeguarding concern is central to English local authorities’ duty under the Care Act 2014 to make enquiries in such cases. While there has been an on-going debate about whether social workers or others should have new powers to effect these enquiries, it has been unclear how common obstructive behaviour by third parties is and how often this causes serious problems or is unresolved. The purpose of this paper is to address this knowledge gap.

Design/methodology/approach

A survey of local authority adult safeguarding managers was conducted in 2016 and interviews were undertaken with managers and social workers in three local authorities. Data were analysed descriptively.

Findings

Estimates of numbers and frequency of cases of obstruction varied widely. Most survey respondents and interview participants described situations where there had been some problems in accessing an adult at risk. Those that were serious and long-standing problems of access were few in number, but were time consuming and often distressing for the professionals involved.

Research limitations/implications

Further survey research on the prevalence of obstructive behaviour of third parties may not command greater response rates unless there is a specific policy proposal or a case that has “hit the headlines”. Other forms of data collection and reporting may be worth considering. Interview data likewise potentially suffer from problems of recall and definition.

Practical implications

At times professionals will hear of, or encounter, difficulties in accessing an adult at risk about whom there is concern. Support from supervisors and managers is needed by practitioners as such cases can be distressing. Localities may wish to collect and reflect upon such cases so that there is learning from practice about possible resolution and outcomes.

Social implications

There is no evidence of large numbers of cases where access is denied or very difficult. Those cases where there are problems are memorable to practitioners. Small numbers of cases, however, do not necessarily mean that the problem of gaining access is insignificant.

Originality/value

This study addressed a question which is topical in England and provides evidence about the frequency of the problem of gaining access to adults at risk. There has been no comparable study in England.

Keywords

Acknowledgements

The authors are most grateful to all those who completed the survey and gave up their time to be interviewed. The authors thank members of the study advisory group and the Unit’s user and carer advisory group for their assistance and advice. This study was commissioned by the Department of Health’s Policy Research Programme. The views expressed in this paper are those of the authors alone and should not be interpreted as necessarily those of the Department of Health, the NIHR or the NHS.

Citation

Manthorpe, J., Stevens, M., Martineau, S. and Norrie, C. (2017), "Safeguarding practice in England where access to an adult at risk is obstructed by a third party: findings from a survey", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 19 No. 6, pp. 323-332. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAP-06-2017-0027

Download as .RIS

Publisher

:

Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2017, Emerald Publishing Limited

To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below

You may be able to access this content by logging in via Shibboleth, Open Athens or with your Emerald account.
To rent this content from Deepdyve, please click the button.
If you think you should have access to this content, click the button to contact our support team.