12. Convenors were asked to include information on adult protection activity in the form of the emerging national dataset for adult support and protection (numbers of referrals, investigations, the characteristics of people offered protection, outputs such as numbers of assessment and protection orders). Convenors were also asked to offer some interpretation and analysis of trends, addressing the questions about why activity is happening and what it might all mean as well as what is happening, how often and to whom.
13. Data collection continues to be a challenge and not all Convenors were able to provide robust data making it difficult to assess the extent of adult protection activity as well as difficult for Convenors to offer interpretation and analysis of what adult support and protection activity might mean. Convenors referred to the national project to improve data collection at a national level which is on-going and should, over time, give Convenors a more consistent picture of activity.
14. Convenors reported a continued rise in adult support and protection referrals. It was felt that this demonstrated, among other things, the positive impact and penetration of increased awareness training on adult support and protection. The reports indicated that most referrals did not go on to become adult support and protection cases and that referrals acted as a catalyst for people accessing appropriate care and treatment from many different services. For example, one Report identified a number of trends in respect of referrals that did not go down the full adult support and protection route:
- Almost all were already known to services and several had been referred multiple times.
- Dementia, hallucinations, paranoia following a stroke and 'acting strangely in a public place' account for a number of cases. Concerns related to clients wandering and putting themselves at risk from traffic and potentially causing accidents that risked harm to others, or repeated calls to the police to investigate undefined hate crime or imagined thefts and burglaries. Callout to frequent falls was also an issue.
- Suicidal ideation, attempted suicide or self-harm accounted for some cases. These were frequently accompanied with intoxication or long-term social, emotional and behavioural problems. In at least a small number of cases the threat of suicide was to call attention to the need for support to deal with specific problems, e.g. housing issues; grief.
- Where cases were already open to Mental Health, Adults with Incapacity, Criminal Justice and other services there is evidence that support packages were reviewed and strengthened. This included increased home care and respite, reviewed guardianship powers or consideration of application for guardianship, placement in Care Home or sheltered accommodation.
15. Police referrals were reported as high in a number of reports. The introduction of Police Scotland's new Vulnerable Persons' Database involved a major training exercise for all staff across Scotland during 2013-14 and was considered to have had an impact on the level of adult support and protection referrals. A significant number of these were in relation to domestic violence or self-harm incidents in which alcohol misuse plays a considerable part, however, only a very small percentage were in fact eventually progressed through adult protection processes. In consultation with local Police Scotland practitioners and managers, a number of Convenors reported monitoring this area of practice to try to achieve a balance that is proportionate to the level of risk reported.
16. Convenors highlighted a focus on matters to do with people in distress; disability related harassment; as well as the prevalence of financial harm in all its forms, including scams and mail scams. However in many instances the people involved in individual cases could not be described as being adults at risk of harm. Convenors recognised that it was important to recognise that one of the perhaps unintended consequences of the implementation of the adult support and protection legislation has been to provide a means by which these matters could be discussed.
17. The use of protection orders is reported as being a very small part of the on-going work introduced by the Act, Although, protection orders were reported as being routinely considered when someone is at risk of serious harm, the principles of the legislation means that the number of applications for such orders is correspondingly low.
Email: Jean Harper, Jean.Harper@gov.scot