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Safeguarding Adults Escalation Protocol

Last Updated 07/10/2021 10:54am

Introduction

A protocol is a formal agreement and commitment between two or more parties on a common response to specific issues, events or circumstances.

The aim of this protocol is to resolve professional disagreements relating to the safety of adults at risk, escalating any concerns that may arise, if issues are not viewed as being dealt with satisfactorily.

Occasionally, situations arise when workers in one organisation feel that the decision made by a worker from another organisation regarding safeguarding an adult at risk is not appropriate. Working together effectively depends on an open and honest approach between organisations.

A healthy safeguarding system has a culture of respectful, professional challenge both within and between organisations. All workers should feel able to challenge decision-making. It is their right and responsibility, in order to promote the best multi-agency safeguarding practice. Being able to remain open to reviewing a decision and positively accept challenge is equally as important as being able to raise a challenge.

All workers have a professional duty to raise concerns about an individual at risk and all organisations should be mindful to give appropriate support to those raising a concern, as difference in status/experience may affect someone’s confidence in reporting.

This protocol provides organisations with the means to raise concerns they have about decisions made by workers from other organisations. It aims to:

  • avoid professional disputes that put adults at additional risk or obscure the focus on the adult at risk
  • resolve the difficulties within and between organisations quickly and openly.

This protocol is not for:

  • complaints – workers need to follow their own internal processes for raising a complaint, this may include use of their organisations whistle-blowing process
  • disagreements internal to one organisation -workers need to follow their own internal processes to seek resolution about a disagreement within their own organisation.

The escalation protocol relates to safeguarding adult cases that meet the statutory duties of The Care Act 2014. This means the referred adult:

  • has needs for care and support (whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs)
  • is experiencing, or is at risk of, abuse or neglect
  • as a result of those care and support needs is unable to protect themselves from either the risk of, or the experience of abuse or neglect

The escalation protocol may be useful in cases concerning the following:

  • whether an organisation should take action in relation to a safeguarding concern / enquiry
  • whether a concern should progress to a safeguarding enquiry
  • who is the most appropriate professional to lead on a safeguarding enquiry
  • whether an organisation has taken sufficient action following a safeguarding enquiry
  • if there is disagreement over the sharing of information.

Despite any disputes there must be a strong focus on the adult concerned, what matters most to them, the outcomes they want to achieve and how that may be accomplished. This is at the heart of making safeguarding personal. Adults must be involved in decision-making and where the adult has a ‘substantial difficulty’ in being involved the support of a suitable person or advocate must be offered.

If a person declines safeguarding support under a S42 enquiry consideration should be given to ways in which the risk to the adult could be managed or mitigated.

Principles underpinning this protocol

  • Partnership: agencies and professionals working effectively together looking for local resolutions at the earliest opportunity to deliver the best outcome for the person
  • Timeliness: responses are timely and ensure the safety of the adult
  • Proportionate: actions taken are proportionate and the least intrusive response to the risk presented.

Stages of the protocol

In taking action under this protocol it is imperative that the safety of the adult in question must be considered at all times and actions to ensure safety are taken whilst disputes are being resolved.

Additionally, it is important for organisations to ensure that workers involved are included in discussions at each stage of the process. They will be able to provide detail around the issues, information about the person’s preferred outcomes and can ensure that well-informed discussions take place.

Due to different organisational structures, organisations may wish to overlay this protocol with appropriate internal roles applicable to each stage.

Stage 1: Workers

Initially, attempts should be taken to resolve the disagreement between the workers involved. This must be completed within two working days. It is important that all available evidence is considered when making decisions and that the rationale for decision making is recorded and fed back as necessary to other workers within organisations. Accountability is, in part, being clear about how and why a particular decision is made. Organisations raising concerns need to be updated on what action has been taken to arrive at a decision.

It is essential that those workers undertaking safeguarding work update and brief their manager on significant information and developments; including disputes. The safety of the adult in question must be considered at all times and actions to ensure safety should be taken.

If resolution cannot be achieved at this stage, then the next stage of this protocol needs to be taken.

Stage 2: Supervisor/Managers

The worker should escalate their concerns to their Supervisor / Manager. The worker should clarify what the disagreement refers to and what their desired outcome of the escalation protocol is.

The Supervisor / Manager must then liaise with the individual of equal authority in the other organisation about the circumstances to resolve the matter. This must be completed within two working days upon receipt of the escalation. The safety of the adult in question must be considered at all times and actions to ensure safety should be taken.

If resolution cannot be achieved at this stage, then the next stage of this protocol needs to be taken.

Stage 3: Organisational safeguarding leads or senior management

The Supervisor / Manager should escalate their concerns to their Organisational Safeguarding Lead or Senior Management. The Supervisor / Manager should clarify what the disagreement refers to, what attempts have been made to seek resolution and what their desired outcome of the escalation protocol is.

The Organisational Safeguarding Lead or Senior Manager must then liaise with the individual of equal authority in the other organisation about the circumstances to resolve the matter. This must be completed within two working days upon receipt of the escalation.

The safety of the adult in question must be considered at all times and actions to ensure safety should be taken. This includes ensuring that sufficient safety measures have been put in place for the individual. A multi-agency meeting may be required to review the risks to the individual and create an interim protection plan.

If resolution cannot be achieved at this stage, then the next stage of this protocol needs to be taken.

Stage 4: Heads of Service or nominated individual of an organisation

The matter should be referred to the relevant Head of Service or nominated Individual of the organisations to seek resolution. This must be done within two working days upon receipt of the escalation and the adult at risk’s safety should be afforded primacy.

Documenting and communicating

Actions and decisions must be documented in writing at each stage of the process and must be shared with all the relevant professionals, including the individual who initially raised the concern.

There should be written confirmation between all parties regarding the agreed outcome(s) and how any outstanding issues will be pursued.

All documentation should be made in accordance with the internal processes of each agency.

Matter arises requiring escalation

Stage 1

Workers instigate initial attempts to resolve any disagreements via a discussion. Is there a resolution?

(If yes)

Make sure all parties understand and agree on the suggested actions. Make sure there is written confirmation of the actions and provide this to all organisations including the person who raised the concern.

(If no)

Stage 2

Workers escalate their concern to their supervisor/manager. This must include a specific description of what the disagreement entails. The supervisor/manager must liaise with the individual of equal authority in the other agency about the circumstance to resolve the matter.

Is there a resolution?

(If yes)

Make sure all parties understand and agree on the suggested actions

Make sure there is written confirmation of the actions and provide this to all agencies including the person who raised the concern

The line manager must inform the individual of equal authority in the other agency about the circumstance.

(If no)

Stage 3

Supervisors/managers must escalate the concern to the safeguarding leads or senior managers within the organisation. Is there a resolution?

(If yes)

Make sure all parties understand and agree on the suggested actions

Make sure there is written confirmation of the actions and provide this to all agencies including the person who raised the concern

Safeguarding lead or senior manager should ensure that sufficient safety measures have been put in place for the individual.

(If no)

Stage 4

If there is still no resolution, the matter should be escalated to the Head of Service/ Nominated Individual .

(If yes)

Make sure all parties understand and agree on the suggested actions

Make sure there is written confirmation of the actions and provide this to all agencies including the person who raised the concern.

Acknowledgements

With thanks to Plymouth Safeguarding Adults Board and 4LSAB including Hampshire, Isle of White, Southampton and Portsmouth Safeguarding Adults Boards, whose guidance and protocols for escalation have been adapted to produce this document.


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