Abuse by and against carers 'rare events that need community and professional vigilance' - ADASS

Association of Directors of Adult Social Services
Date: Monday 11th July 2011
Embargo: Immediate

Seven key ingredients to good practice surrounding cases where carers abuse the adults they care for, or are in turn abused by them, have been published today by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services. Their report* highlights seven key messages that need to be taken on board by people using the Associations review of safeguarding and caring, and how carers leads and safeguarding leads can work better and more closely together.

According to Graeme Betts, chair of the ADASS Carers Network, and the joint chairs of the Safeguarding Network Adi Cooper and Penny Furness-Smith: "There are times when carers experience abuse from the person to whom they are offering care and support. Or from the local community in which they live. Risk of harm to the supported person may also arise because of carer stress, tiredness, or lack of information, skills or support.

"Sadly, there are times where harm is intended. And sometimes, professionals may place undue confidence in the capacity of families to care effectively and safely. This is coming to be known as 'the rule of optimism'We need constantly to be on our guard against these very rare occurrences."

The seven key messages which ADASS would like people to receive following it review are:

LEADERSHIP Safeguarding is everybodys business with directors and local Boards listening, learning and leading on improved safeguarding outcomes and outcomes for carers,

PARTNERSHIP Safeguarding Adults Boards should engage with carers and local stakeholders working together for better safeguarding practice and outcomes for those involved in safeguarding processes,

EMPOWERMENT Carers should have access to information, advice and advocacy that is understandable and empowers them to share their concerns and change harmful circumstances,

PREVENTION Community engagement, public and professional awareness should be encouraged and accessible, and understandable information should be made available to carers that reduces risk of abuse,

RECOGNITION and REPORTING Partnerships and practitioners need to understand the barriers to recognition and reporting and work in partnership to overcome them and ensure access to justice,

PROTECTION and PROPORTIONALITY Responses should have the person concerned at their centre and enable those at risk to inform outcomes linked to proportionate and protective services and supports. Risks must be managed and harmful and abusive situations stopped.

LEARNING and ACCOUNTABILITY Impacts are understood, practice monitored and safeguarding experiences and outcomes monitored to learn from the experiences of carers and people at risk of harm and those who seek to help them. Staff must have the competencies and operational culture to support this.

The ADASS spokesman and spokeswomen said that their review has "shone an important searchlight into a sensitive and often overlooked area of concern. It needs to be treated with care and caution. But however difficult a subject matter this might be to raise, the complexity and sensitivity should never be a reason to neglect it."


For further information contact:
Graeme Betts, Chair, ADASS Cares Network, 0203 373 1914
Adi Cooper, Joint Chair, ADASS Safeguarding Network, 020 8770 4011
Penny Furness-Smith, Joint Chair, ADASS Safeguarding Network, 023 8083 2621

* Carers and Safeguarding Adults Working Together To Improve Outcomes, ADASS, July 2011