Every care home manager will at some point in their role be invited to attend a Safeguarding Review Meeting by the local authority. Many managers find these meetings stressful and often feel unsupported and out of their depth. Within this blog you will find information and tips which we hope will help in preparing for the meeting and then the attendance at the meeting. Being prepared is often the best way to reduce stress.
When a safeguarding issue has arisen relating to the care of a resident, it may come from many sources, for example, the visiting district nurse or the ambulance service. These alerts may be directly related to your service, or your service may be involved as the resident is in your care.
The local authority has a duty to investigate all safeguarding issues brought to their attention. This process includes a Safeguarding Review Meeting, where all parties involved are brought together to discuss what the issue is, what the implications are both for the person concerned and the wider public, which in essence could mean the wider group of residents within a care home, hospital or indeed their own home. The purpose of the meeting is not to apportion blame, but to examine what took place, and to look at what action can be taken to prevent the same issue from occurring again.
With the above in mind, when preparing to attend a Safeguarding Review Meeting, it is all-important to reflect and take time to have a clear understanding about your role within the meeting. This may change depending on why you are invited to the meeting. It may be because of an allegation being made about the home, or the staff. Alternatively, it may be because your organisation has raised a safeguarding alert about another party. Either way being well prepared is vital. It is good to establish a timeline to take with you, detailing any relevant information and what action was taken by whom and when. Pay particular attention to when anything in the case was escalated to another agency.
Whilst you may be taking residents’ records with you, having a timeline helps speed up the process and saves sifting through what could be a lot of paperwork.
If there are multiple safeguarding issues in progress the safeguarding review meeting may be convened to discuss all the cases related to your home. In these circumstances your timelines for each event are even more important as taking a lot of documents can prove difficult to manage during the meeting.
As you will know what issues are to be discussed, ensure that you are the right person to be attending the meeting and that you have the authority to speak on behalf of your organisation.
If you feel that you do not have the autonomy required to attend the meeting alone and you feel that your line manager or the owner should be present make sure that you inform the Chair of the meeting beforehand about who you will be bringing with you and why their involvement is required. It is highly unlikely that you will be required to bring staff members along to a meeting, as the meeting is to review the situation, and any staff that may be involved in the case may well be interviewed separately to the review meeting.
At the meeting, the number of people present can be daunting but do not be surprised in some cases for your local regulatory inspector and/or the police to be present along with social workers, safeguarding officers and a note taker. They are all part of the process and they work closely with the local authority in managing safeguarding issues.
Be prepared to provide information at the meeting, and if you know something that maybe others do not be prepared to speak up (always addressing the person chairing the meeting).
When you are asked a question to answer it as concisely as possible and stick to what you know to be fact and try not to give an opinion unless directly ask for. Remember the meeting is not to apportion blame on you, therefore if something went wrong you should be prepared to say so. You may also wish to add any mitigation you may have at this time.
When the information is received from all parties by the person chairing the meeting, you may be asked to provide updated information at a later point, and it is likely that the risk level will be assessed.
You may also be asked to provide an action plan because of the meeting, or you may be assigned tasks on a wider multiagency action plan. If this is the case, ensure that you are clear about the actions you need to take and by when.
There will be timescales attached to agreed actions, and you should advise the chairperson if you anticipate difficulties in achieving them.
When you leave the meeting remember that you will have been asked to agree to a confidentiality statement so you cannot discuss anything with anyone, including your employer. If you feel that you need to discuss the issue with your line manager or know that they will ask you to, ensure that before leaving the meeting you clarify with the person chairing the meeting, what you are able to report back and ensure that this request is recorded in the minutes of the meeting. There may be instances where you will not be able to discuss this information as there is involvement of the police which could mean discussing the case could damage the evidence the police are looking for.
Above all, remember throughout the meeting, that the meeting is not a punitive process, it is about all parties having a clear understanding of what happened, what went wrong, and what can be learned by those parties involved to prevent a similar issue arising again.
Our team of consultants have considerable experience to assist and support during complex safeguarding issues and we are happy to provide advice and support, conduct investigation if required, and even support you to attend a meeting.