Users and Carers
6. Convenors were asked to describe the way in which user and carer interests are represented on the Committee and an evaluation of their effectiveness of the arrangements. The most important part of this section was expected to be feedback from users and carers on outcomes - how they perceive the adult protection policy and procedures to be improving their protection from harm; in other words, their response to questions such as 'do you feel safer as a result of the efforts of the adult protection arrangements?'
7. The Biennial reports indicated that there was unlikely to be any single user and carer group which could reasonably be asked to represent the totality of views and interests and membership of Committees was more likely to be extended to representatives for advocacy services, and/or a small number of voluntary sector representatives. One Convenor, however, reported the establishment of a Service Carer and User Group comprising representatives from a range of backgrounds with the views and opinions of this Group becoming part of every Adult Protection Committee agenda.
8. Convenors highlighted a wide range of good practice aimed at the inclusion of adults in the process and in decision making. This included council officers demonstrating sensitivity to the communication and support needs of adults with dementia and other support needs; positive evidence of engagement with, listening to and involving the adult and their family (where appropriate); as well as the respecting of adults' views and choices.
9. However, direct feedback from users and carers on their experience of Adult Support and Protection services and outcomes was less in evidence. Difficulties were reported in obtaining consent from adults to be interviewed. Where there was evidence it indicated that adults at risk often felt safer as a result of adult support and protection procedures although some were unclear what actions had taken place as a result of the adult support and protection referral and where actions by social work had taken place this could be seen as being unrelated to the referral.
10. The importance of advocacy services was mentioned in some reports, with recognition that local advocacy services are stretched and these agencies have to prioritise statutory mental health referrals. As a result, advocacy for adults at risk of harm continues to be identified as a gap in provision by the organisations themselves and by Adult Protection Committees. In one area, where advocacy services was proactively promoted there was an uptake in the use of such services.
11. The impact of Self Directed Support on Adult Support and Protection was also raised, with increasing choice and autonomy having the potential to increase the risks of harm and therefore having an impact on safeguarding adults at risk of harm.
Email: Jean Harper, Jean.Harper@gov.scot