Last week Wolverhampton Safeguarding Adults Board held one of its quarterly meetings. Each time we meet I have pledged to comment on what we discussed and how it improves our combined efforts to better safeguard adults who may be at risk of, or actually experiencing, abuse. Read more....
Challenge I’ll start with an example of how senior managers from agencies represented at the Board challenge one another and take reported concerns seriously.
Recent reports in the media highlighted that the Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust reported relatively high numbers of patients with significant pressure sores. The Board wanted to understand this more.
Pressure sores can be a sign of neglect or poor care, so we asked the Hospital to report on the details behind the headlines and what action had been taken to ensure that the care people received was of the highest quality. The RW NHS Trust told the Board that it reports high levels of pressure sores but argued that they insist on including incidents that other hospitals might not include in their reports, or even in their definition of what a pressure sore is.
In short the RW NHS Trust says it sets a high standard of reporting and then challenges its staff to improve against that high standard. A reasonable question might be: ‘How do we know that explanation is reasonable?’
What gave us some reassurance was that the part of the NHS that commissions local hospital (and other health) services, Wolverhampton Clinical Commissioning Group, confirmed that it monitors these reports very closely. I sat in on the meeting at the Hospital at which the reports were discussed and can confirm that the explanation given was a fair one. This was a good example of partners challenging each other, and holding one another to account.
Do we help to keep people safer?
We also discussed how we can better use our Annual Report to show the ways in which all the Board partners help to keep adults with care and support needs safe from abuse and neglect; and what if any
difference we make by working together through the Safeguarding Adults Board.
If you look at our last Annual Report for 2014-15 it is informative and relatively easy to read, but doesn’t say enough to show more clearly to the public how we make a difference. You need to know if and how people feel safer as a result of the support from a range of organisations and professionals’ be they nurses, housing support workers, care staff social workers, police officers or whoever.
In this year’s report there will be examples of how we have made a difference. We will make them anonymous but you can learn first-hand how each agency can demonstrate all the time training staff actually makes a difference.
Modern Slavery Finally, we received our first report on something described as ‘Modern Slavery.’ For some time now we have heard reports on television and in the media of i
ndividuals discovered living and working in appalling conditions, often without pay and effectively being held captive. As yet we know little about how many might be in this position in our city. Many, but not all in this situation, come from overseas. Some are too afraid to speak out for fear that the person who brought them here will hurt them, or that they will be deported. Some are further at risk through a learning disability, or mental health problem.
Along with Safer Wolverhampton Partnership, and the Safeguarding Children Board, we are trying to understand the scale of Modern Slavery both regionally and in Wolverhampton. The report told us a lot in broad terms about what the police and partners are doing to identify the numbers of people affected and how to disrupt the activities of those who exploit desperate and vulnerable people.
We have asked for more information so that we can better identify potentially vulnerable people, and get assurance that they are supported to escape these exploitative situations. As we find out more, we will find out whether or not we are devoting sufficient time and effort to safeguard people in this terrible situation.
Alan Coe - Independent Chairperson of Wolverhampton Safeguarding Adults Board (and also Wolverhampton Safeguarding Children Board)