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The recent revision of the Care Act statutory guidance provided a significant opportunity to improve practice in adult safeguarding, claims Gary Fitzgerald, chief executive of Action on Elder Abuse.
Despite this opportunity however, Mr Fitzgerald argues that the changes were minimal and that much clearer guidance would be needed if we wanted safeguarding intervention to be consistent, supportive and effective.
The Department of Health drafted the Care Act and only defined the infrastructure for adult safeguarding that must exist in local areas – safeguarding adult boards, the duty to make safeguarding enquiries in certain circumstances and provision for sharing information and carrying out safeguarding adult reviews in serious cases.
It was left to statutory guidance to set out how this should be applied in practice and define the philosophy and expectations of adult safeguarding in England.
Mr Fitzgerald said that the first version of the guidance, which was published in 2014, was also inadequate in this respect.
He warned that it is not enough to “simply reflect the wording of the legislation, without explanation or elaboration, or to merely draw attention to aspects of abuse.
“This is what the existing guidance does repeatedly on key issues and as it stands, the need for a third version is likely to become self-evident in due course.”
Guidance is designed to elaborate and expand on the law. The latest version however simply paraphrases the Care Act.
It states that safeguarding duties apply to an adult who has needs for care and support whether or not the local authority is meeting any of those needs. It also applies to those who are experiencing or are at risk of abuse or neglect as well as those whose care and support needs mean that they are unable to protect themselves from either the risk of or the experience of abuse or neglect.
Yet neither the original nor the revised guidance provides advice on how to interpret this provision.
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