Making Safeguarding Personal

Making Safeguarding Personal

Making Safeguarding Personal

Summary of the current situation and the LGA report published November 2015


To justify the assertion that the implementation of the Care Act 2015 has changed the culture and ethos of Adult Safeguarding such that it is not ‘business as usual’, but is in effect a new type of service, the Department of Health has leaned heavily on the Making Safeguarding Personal’ (MSP) approach (to which 151 of 152 local authorities have ostensibly subscribed). However, as has been rightly pointed out, MSP has significant limitations and can only be utilised in a small number of situations. For example, if a provider, acute trust or social care employee has been subject to a safeguarding allegation, then MSP often becomes somewhat redundant.

For example, there may be a report that a Domiciliary Care Worker is financially abusing a service user and consequently, in line with MSP, Adult Safeguarding will ask the Service User what they want from the process. The victim may often defend the worker, and indicate that they want no action taken because they feel sorry for them. That outcome would probably not be achievable because there are other service users potentially at risk, making MSP of no value. Such scenarios are not unusual.

Last month the LGA published an evaluation report on MSP, and this is being used in conference talks to promote the value and success of the MSP approach.

Limitations of the evaluation:

There are limitations of this evaluation that are worth noting:

• It was conducted in advance of the introduction of the Care Act in April 2015.
• Considering that the emphasis of the MSP approach is on actively engaging victims in the goal setting and management of the safeguarding experience, it must be a significant criticism of the evaluation that it did not ‘include people who had experience of being ‘safeguarded’ in the evaluation’. Due to various constraints, the work only included the views of professionals.
• Data relating to outcomes was very patchy, with the majority of respondents unable to provide comprehensive data about number of cases, number of people asked about outcomes, and number of outcomes achieved.
• 58 per cent of MSP lead survey respondents thought it was too soon to say what impact the MSP approach was having on the experience of people who use safeguarding services.
• The response rate to the surveys was not as great as could be expected, considering they were targeting those people with direct responsibility for MSP implementation. Only 63 per cent of MSP leads (council staff with responsibility for developing the MSP approach locally) and 44 per cent of staff who had used an MSP approach, responded. There were also six telephone focus groups with 16
MSP leads; and five telephone interviews with senior leaders in adult safeguarding services.

The report authors acknowledged the limitations of the research. They recognised that they did not know the situation of the 37 per cent of MSP leads who did not respond; they could be those who are more critical of the approach, or where MSP has proven more challenging to implement, or where things are going well and they didn’t feel the need to give feedback. Similarly, the focus groups, while raising challenges, gave a positive impression of the will to implement MSP and this may
not be representative of the broader picture.

They also cautioned that the sample of staff who had implemented MSP in practice was also likely to be unrepresentative, because they obtained their contact details through the MSP leads. They stated that it was possible that the sample was biased, because it was likely that only MSP leads who were most engaged sent details of staff to contact. This meant that the results may have presented a more positive picture than was occurring in reality. However, the sample was also biased towards those councils who had already made some significant progress in using an MSP approach.

Some conclusions worth noting (quotes from the report)

Whilst there is undoubted progress in relation to developing an outcomes focus, and social workers are using a number of approaches (see Williams, Ogilvie and White, 2015) the evaluation didn’t establish that leadership and practice is yet at a stage of more formally developing this aspect of MSP. Further monitoring and work are needed to ensure that the MSP approach is available for use in all types of
safeguarding situations, and for everyone.

Councils had implemented MSP in different ways. These included partnership and project work; changing systems; staff development and awareness raising; developing approaches to safeguarding; and using feedback and evaluation. The data collected gave a mixed picture about whether MSP leads to greater use of resource and time in safeguarding.

Effective use of the Mental Capacity Act was highlighted as a fundamental foundation of MSP, which needs further attention to ensure consistency.

Challenges were highlighted in implementing change in large organisations and over multi-agency systems. Respondents in smaller councils which had lower numbers of referrals, and those with specialist teams working on safeguarding found it easier to implement MSP and keep staff informed. The importance of involving all multiagency partners in MSP was highlighted by many, who recognised the need for everyone to own the approach.

However, even the most engaged authorities recognised that there was a lack of consistency about how MSP was being implemented – both within councils, and over the broader multi-agency system.

The impact of MSP on multi-agency and partnership working in safeguarding to date is unclear. MSP has been seen as a ‘social services’ thing, with variable degrees of engagement from different agencies.

Topics or areas of practice where staff requested support, or found support useful, included how to manage risk, recording outcomes, identifying and working with coercive and controlling behaviours and their impact, having honest discussions where people’s wishes can’t be delivered, enabling people to weigh up the risks and benefits of different options, safeguarding and the law, use of the Mental Capacity Act, and how to effectively involve people in decisions about their safeguarding.

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