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Making Safeguarding Personal

The 2014 Care Act introduced the idea that when trying to protect adults at risk, agencies should work directly with the person involved and within a structure that 'makes safeguarding personal'. It's the sort of concept to which we can all nod our agreement. But what does it mean in practice?

It's about putting the person who is the victim at the heart of what is done to remedy the situation and working with them to achieve the outcome they most desire from the situation they are experiencing. In this way, it can be empowering and make a real difference to their wellbeing, but it only really works if we can be sure that the person is safe and not likely to suffer any further abuse from their perpetrator.

Quite often however, we learn from victims, especially but not only the elderly, that they are reluctant to report what's been happening and when they do, they may not want any action taken. This is because they might have a dependent close relationship with the perpetrator, and in some cases welcome the personal contact that results from it, despite the anguish it may cause. This is often the case when it comes to a report of financial abuse perhaps by a relative or family friend, or emotional abuse from these same people through hurtful words and actions. If we believe that the victim is able to make an informed choice about what they want or don't want to happen, and we respect that wish, then is just leaving it the same thing as making safeguarding personal?

The simple answer at first glance may be yes, but a more robust and safer answer is no, and to get to that position, we need to learn to ask the right questions, reflect on what we have learnt with a more experienced colleague and if we can, find out about what has happened to other people in similar situations in other places. Then we can come to an informed view of whether we have really made a wise decision about supporting victim abuse to make their safeguarding solution personal.

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