A report evaluated a government-funded programme that offered training and support to improve the quality of serious case review reports.
Source: Marian Brandon, Pippa Belderson, and Sue Bailey, 'Improving the Quality of Serious Case Reviews' Through Support and Training: Independent evaluation, Centre for Research on Children & Families (University of East Anglia)
A report said that the cost of providing appropriate support and services to meet the needs of all children and families returning home from care amounted to around £56 million a year, while the total estimated annual cost for all failed reunifications was £300 million. The report said that reunifications often failed because families received insufficient support to overcome problems such as poor parenting, domestic violence, parental substance misuse, and mental health problems. It noted some limitations in the data.
Source: Lisa Holmes, Supporting Children and Families Returning Home from Care: Counting the costs, National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children
The government began consultation on proposals to make it a legal requirement for health and social care providers to display the performance rating given to them by the Care Quality Commission. The consultation document included draft regulations to show how the changes would work in practice. The consultation would close on 13 October 2014.
Source: Display of Performance Assessments: Placing a legal requirement on registered providers to display the rating published by the Care Quality Commission, Department of Health
Links: Consultation document
An article examined the variety of meanings and practices of practitioners in performing 'adult protection' work in Scotland. It called for further research in order to deepen understandings, and for policy-makers to engage with the research as they developed their adult protection work.
Source: Fiona Sherwood-Johnson, 'A different kind of practice? Meanings attached by practitioners to the idea of "adult protection"', Journal of Social Work, Volume 14 Number 5
An article examined whistle-blowing by healthcare and social care employees in cases of mistreatment of older people in the United Kingdom. It examined employees' perceptions of, and strategies for, whistle-blowing, and called for better understanding of the importance of workplace relationships and informal channels for raising concerns.
Source: Aled Jones and Daniel Kelly, 'Whistle-blowing and workplace culture in older peoples' care: qualitative insights from the healthcare and social care workforce', Sociology of Health & Illness, Volume 36 Issue 7
A study examined the locations from which people were reported missing to the police repeatedly in a one year period. The report said that private care homes (57.1 per cent) were the most common place and almost all (99.5 per cent) of those who went missing from private care homes were young people aged 18 years and under. The report made a range of recommendations, including: that Ofsted and the Care Quality Commission should routinely request a police summary of missing person reports as part of their inspections, and investigate (and maybe sanction) where there have been a high number of reports; that the police should carry out a case review on locations from which there were frequent missing persons; that the Department of Health and the police should urgently clarify relative responsibilities for missing patients, and consider how to enhance multi-agency relationships to improve safeguarding practices for vulnerable people; and for better routine information exchange between local authorities and police for children in care, with any changes monitored.
Source: Karen Shalev Greene and Carol Hayden, Repeat Reports to the Police of Missing People: Locations and characteristics, Centre for the Study of Missing Persons (University of Portsmouth)
A report provided findings from an independent inquiry into Rotherham Borough Council's response to issues around child sexual exploitation. The inquiry examined the council's internal processes and procedures, as well as its work alongside partners, in responding to historical cases during the period 1997-2013. The report said that, on a conservative estimate, approximately 1400 children were sexually exploited over the period and in just over one-third of cases the children affected were previously known to services because of child protection and neglect. The report said there had been many improvements made by both the council and the police over the past four years, but the central team in children's social care that worked jointly with the police on child sexual exploitation struggled to keep pace with the demands of its workload, there were still matters (such as good risk assessment) for children's social care to address, and there was not enough long-term support for the child victims. The report made recommendations.
Source: Alexis Jay, Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Exploitation in Rotherham 1997-2013
Links: Report | Council response | Action plan | RMBC press release | Letter from Edward Timpson | 4Children press release | ACPO press release | Childrens Society press release | IPCC statement | BBC report | Guardian report | Guardian report | Telegraph report
A report examined corporate parenting for young people as they left the care system, and considered whether and how a range of local services worked together to extend corporate parenting responsibilities and accountability during this phase. It said that young people leaving care were often very vulnerable and were 'uniquely dependent' on local services as they made the transition to adulthood. While, in some cases, services met high standards, the report said that others were perceived to be poor, and it made a range of recommendations to improve provision, including: for more explicit recognition of care leavers in policy; for a range of automatic entitlements or priority for support; for better information and data sharing; for the development of joint working and protocols; and for more personalized services with named support providers.
Source: Linda Briheim-Crookall, Dustin Hutchinson, and Jo Dixon, Extended Corporate Parenting: Are local services good parents to care leavers?, Catch22
A report by a committee of MPs said that achieving the government's agenda to change and improve adult social care would require unprecedented levels of co-ordinated working between government departments, between central and local government, and across local authorities and health bodies. The committee questioned whether expectations were too high, and the report outlined concerns and made recommendations in three areas: for collaboration across all bodies involved in the care system; for better understanding of the capacity of the system and whether money was reaching frontline services; and for the government's oversight arrangements to reflect the overriding importance of quality of care. The committee raised concerns about the nature of employment contracts in the care sector and, in particular, the use of zero-hours contracts and the numbers of staff earning the minimum wage.
Source: Adult Social Care in England, Sixth Report (Session 201415), HC 518, House of Commons Public Accounts Select Committee, TSO
The inspectorate for education and children's services began consultation on proposals for the integrated inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after, and care leavers, and for the joint inspections of Local Safeguarding Children Boards. The consultation was issued jointly with the Care Quality Commission, HM Inspectorate of Constabulary, HM Inspectorate of Prisons, and HM Inspectorate of Probation, and a joint report was published alongside the consultation document, outlining inspection findings in relation to the support and protection of children. The consultation would close on 12 September 2014.
Source: Integrated Inspections of Services for Children in Need of Help and Protection, Children Looked After and Care Leavers and Joint Inspections of the Local Safeguarding Children Board, HMI 140112, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
The inspectorate for education and children's services published an evaluation of the new framework for the inspection of services for children in need of help and protection, children looked after, and care leavers (single inspection framework) and reviews of Local Safeguarding Children Boards. The report was published alongside an independent review, based on initial feedback from inspectors and from local authorities that had been inspected under the new framework. The report said that there was general endorsement that the new framework was inspecting the right aspects of work, and so could have an impact on improvement in the sector, but there was widespread concern about the consequent demands on inspectors and local authorities and about the reliability and validity of the judgments reached. The report made recommendations.
Source: The New Ofsted Framework for the Inspection of Children's Services and for Reviews of Local Safeguarding Children Boards: An evaluation, HMI 140099, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
Source: Eileen Munro, Review of First Eleven Ofsted Inspections of Services for Children in Need of Help and Protection, Children Looked after and Care Leavers, and Local Safeguarding Children Boards, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
The Welsh Government published a summary of responses to its consultation on proposals to strengthen the regulation and inspection of social care. The report said that there had been broad support for the proposals set out in the White Paper, alongside some requests for clarification and more details on certain elements, and a number of respondents identified that they would be keen to engage with Welsh Government in the further development of the proposals. It said that some areas of the consultation (such as negative registration and fees for registration of service providers) were unpopular with respondents.
Source: The Future of Regulation and Inspection of Care and Support in Wales: Consultation ï¿½ summary of responses, Welsh Government
A report examined the pilot in the south west of England of a new systems approach to case reviews and serious case reviews – Learning Together. The report outlined the methodology, discussed the learning gleaned to date from the pilot, and raised discussion points for policy.
Source: SCIE Learning Together: Reflections from the South West project, Social Care Institute for Excellence
The inspectorate for healthcare and social care began consultation on proposals to change the way in which care services in England were regulated, inspected, and rated. Proposals included: the introduction of new methods of inspection, with Chief Inspectors and more specialist teams to include members of the public; a new system to help decide when, where and what to inspect; and listening to people's experiences of care. Future assessments would be based on five key questions, asking whether services were safe, effective, caring, responsive to people's needs, and well-led. The consultation would close on 4 June 2014.
Source: Care Quality Commission
A report examined progress on Making Safeguarding Personal, a social services led initiative in adult safeguarding. It said that councils reported seeing positive results from changes, but that the initial stages of the safeguarding process took time and had an impact on overall workload. The report identified some areas of practice that required further development, including: advocacy; practice and knowledge around the Mental Capacity Act and Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards; assessment and management of risk; recording systems; skills development; and leadership.
Source: Jane Lawson, Sue Lewis, and Cathie Williams, Making Safeguarding Personal 2013/14: Report of findings, Local Government Association
A study examined behavioural factors affecting social workers' decision-making in England, and how that might be improved, focused on the point at which children first came into contact with the child protection system. The report said that there were four key behavioural factors that affected social workers' decisions: time and workload pressures that increased the reliance upon intuition; a range of behavioural biases; decision fatigue; and the relatively low quality of available information. The report said that there was an overarching lack of robust evidence on what worked in particular contexts, which complicated all of these behavioural factors and compromised both existing diagnostic practice and the development of better approaches. The report concluded that future decision-making could be aided by insights from the behavioural sciences, and made a range of recommendations.
Source: Elspeth Kirkman and Karen Melrose, Clinical Judgement and Decision-Making in Children's Social Work: An analysis of the 'front door' system, Research Report 337, Department for Education
The inspectorate for education and children's services examined the effectiveness of arrangements to safeguard children who experience neglect, drawing on case evidence and the views of parents, carers and professionals in England. It outlined areas of practice where there was particular concern, and said that more needed to be done to identify and respond effectively to the earliest stages of neglect. It called for local authorities and local safeguarding children boards to improve their understanding of the extent of neglect in their areas and to develop shared strategies to prioritize action. It also recommended that social work training should be improved, to increase professional understanding of the impact of neglect.
Source: In the Child's Time: Professional responses to neglect, HMI 140059, Office for Standards in Education, Children's Services and Skills
The government began consultation on proposals to impose a duty of candour on all providers registered with the Care Quality Commission. The duty would require organizations to be open with service users if they were harmed (above a certain 'harm threshold') as a result of their care or treatment. The document included draft regulations and asked about the anticipated impact on providers. The consultation would close on 25 April 2014.
Source: Introducing the Statutory Duty of Candour: A consultation on proposals to introduce a new CQC registration regulation, Department of Health
A report examined how social work service practitioners in Scotland might better understand the perspectives of people who might be at risk of harm, and considered ways to improve service user participation in investigations, decision-making and meetings. It said that service users and carers had mixed experiences, some good, but some adults felt more could have been done to help them understand what adult support and protection was about and to help them participate more. The project had examined and adapted existing tools, and developed new ones, for ongoing piloting.
Source: Bobby Brown, Jenny Bruce, Maureen Conway, Beth Cross, Neil Dunn, Fiona Gaffney, Michelle Howorth, Susan Hynd, Claire Lightowler, Kaye MacGregor, Kathryn Mackay, Senga McCulloch, Lee McLauchlan, Rhona Maxwell, Brian Rapley, Rose Sinclair, and Helen Winter, A Project to Support More Effective Involvement of Service Users in Adult Support and Protection Activity, Scottish Government
An article examined adult protection in Scotland, in particular how service users, family members, and service delivery professionals perceived the effectiveness of the protection orders issued under the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007. It said that, although there had been concerns about the potential for paternalistic practice and excessive use of orders, proportionality appeared to be applied in practice. It said that all parties were aware of the tensions between autonomy and protection, but there were beneficial outcomes from the careful use of orders.
Source: Michael Preston-Shoot and Sally Cornish, 'Paternalism or proportionality? Experiences and outcomes of the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007', Journal of Adult Protection, Volume 16 Number 1
The government began consultation on proposals to change the system of regulation for health and social care organizations in England, including the introduction of legally mandated minimum standards, backed by enforcement options for the regulator. The consultation would close on 4 April 2014.
Source: Introducing Fundamental Standards: Consultation on proposals to change CQC registration regulations, Department of Health
A report examined the links between evidence and innovation in social work policy and practice in Scotland, exploring the associated conceptual, theoretical and empirical issues, and using case study examples.
Source: Jodie Pennacchia, Exploring the Relationships Between Evidence and Innovation in the Context of Scotlandï¿½s Social Services, Institute for Research and Innovation in Social Services