Paul Yeatman, Independent Chair of the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board, and Sarah Jasper, Head of Safeguarding (Adults) at Gloucestershire County Council to present the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board GSAB Annual Report 2021/2022.
Paul Yeatman, Independent Chair of the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board, and Sarah Jasper, Head of Safeguarding (Adults) at Gloucestershire County Council, introduced the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board GSAB Annual Report 2021/2022.
The report is produced as a statutory requirement of the Care Act 2014 and covers the period April 2021 to March 2022.
Referring to the challenges the Gloucestershire safeguarding partnership had experienced during the past year, members were informed that work to ensure the safety and well-being of adults with care and support needs continued. Although circumstances were far from normal and the partnership continued to operate in a pressured environment during the recovery period from the COVID-19 pandemic, efforts were being made to establish a “new” normal approach to the work.
In line with the current national position, the Gloucestershire Health and Social Care Systems has experienced unprecedented demand during the past year, and at the same time, had to cope with the challenge of staff isolating due to COVID, and current difficulties in the retention and recruitment of staff.
It was explained that, owing to a number of factors, the Gloucestershire systems have experienced an ever-increasing volume and complexity of safeguarding issues, many of which related to individuals experiencing severe and multiple disadvantages, including homelessness, contact with the criminal justice system, substance misuse, sex working and mental health. This was evidenced in a number of Safeguarding Adults Reviews (SARs).
In spite of the challenges of the past year, the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board has continued to maintain focus from a virtual system based approach, striving to deliver the objectives of the extended 3-year Strategic Plan 2018-2021: Improving Effectiveness of the Board, Improving Safeguarding Practice, Preventative Strategies and Making Safeguarding Personal. The Board has recently launched a new 3-year Strategic plan 2022-2025, with new and clear priorities for the next few years.
Another statutory requirement of the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Board is to commission Safeguarding Adults Reviews (SAR’s), set against certain criteria. During 2020/2021, the Board received 6 referrals from undertaking SAR’s, of which one was proceeding to further review and another as a learning event. Three completed SARs were published during the past year.
The Safeguarding Board Sub Group continued to oversee implementation work on the recommendations of the three published SARs in order to ensure service improvements are embedded and maintained. The Sub Group also continued to respond to the findings and recommendations of the first National Analysis of Safeguarding Adults Reviews in England, undertaken to consider all published reviews during the period April 2017- March 2019, including those submitted by the Gloucestershire Safeguarding Adults Board.
Throughout the past year, the Workforce Development Group has continued to respond to ongoing challenges to recruitment and retention, with 12,478 Gloucestershire staff, (including volunteers), undertaking GSAB approved Safeguarding and Mental Capacity Act (MCA) courses. Some of the training was able to be delivered on a face-to-face basis during the final few months. It was noted that, moving forward, training would be delivered from a ‘blended’ approach due to benefits identified from delivering training via remote access.
Outlining some of the other work delivered by the Board and sub groups in the past year, members were informed that:
1) The Policy and Procedure Group was continuing with its annual review of all relevant Board policy and procedure documents;
2) A new Multi-Agency Risk Management (MARM) Framework had been commissioned, (with an anticipated launch date in 2022/3);
3) A ‘virtual’ annual care providers development day for trainers had been held in November, delivered via MS Teams.
4) The Multi-Agency Audit Group had undertaken audits on self-neglect, dementia and mental health enquiries, plus in-depth reviews of specific complex alcohol misuse/self-neglect and financial abuse issues.
5) Increased awareness of issues using a trauma informed approach from working with individuals with complex needs.
6) Work in Fire Safety Development had produced an action plan in alignment with the Fire Standards Board Prevention Standards. The action plan identified priorities for improving inter-agency working, including training frontline practitioners from all agencies to recognise fire risks in homes and to ensure was safeguarding is embedded in all fire risk reduction activity. A member requested that the fire safeguarding leaflet produced as a result of this work be shared with, and promoted by, local councillors. The request was noted.
Members welcomed the in-depth account provided by the report and asked that the latest version of the risk register referred to on page 7, (covering the period 2022-25 and linked to the new 2022-25 Strategic Plan), be circulated to the committee when available.
Acknowledging the work and invaluable contribution by the voluntary care sector, in particular Matt Lennard and the Voluntary Care Sector Alliance, the committee recognised the added pressures brought about by the demands of an increasing population. The 2021 Census reported that Gloucestershire’s population was 645,076 in 2021. This represented an increase of 8.1%% between 2011-21, higher than the growth rate of 6.3% for England and Wales.
Questioning the impact of asylum seekers and refugees on the county, the committee was informed that an ‘Asylum Seekers Board’ established in November 2022, was dedicated to the health, care and safeguarding of asylum seekers and refugees in Gloucestershire.
Reflecting on challenges to staff retention and recruitment, a member asked about the size of the safeguarding team at the County Council and was informed that the current team comprised 6 and a half full time equivalents. Due to the extent of the work required by the team, plans were in place to expand this number, using funds from the Build Back Better Lives Fund. The merits of the helpdesk and the point of access team were noted.
Acknowledging expressions of appreciation to the various members of the Board, including Board Business Manager and the members of the various sub groups, the committee’s attention was also drawn to the work and commitment of front-line practitioners, and to their continued support and commitment in developing and promoting work aimed at protecting and supporting adults.
The report was noted.