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Developing effective Safeguarding Adult Review learning events: Practice Tool (2021)

Published: 22/02/2021

Author: Spreadbury, K

Citation:

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Spreadbury, K. (2021). Developing effective Safeguarding Adult Review learning events: Practice Tool (2021). Dartington: Research in Practice. Download citation file

Sections

The purpose of a Safeguarding Adult Review (SAR) is to identify useful learning to help prevent similar situations arising in the future. The SAR needs to look beyond records or written reports and explore the financial, legal, political and social context in which the work was undertaken (Preston-Shoot, 2017). How these contexts impact upon the situation under review can best be understood by working with the people involved at the time, by understanding the perspectives of practitioners and managers, and the impact of contextual factors on their thinking and decision making.

SAR learning events are valuable opportunities for organisations and people who are part of a local safeguarding system to develop and implement learning from SARs. This Practice Tool uses data collected from a Research in Practice survey sent out to Safeguarding Adults Boards and local authorities to explore and inform what makes an effective SAR learning event. It is a practical tool providing support to all people involved in learning from SARs and setting up learning events. It can be used either as a checklist and reflection for experienced staff or as a support to those new to learning events.

The tool will be useful for lead reviewers, board business managers, and safeguarding review subgroups.

This is a quick-read version of the Developing effective Safeguarding Adult Review learning events: Practice Tool (2021), which highlights its key messages. To gain a greater understanding of the topic you can download and read the full resource.

Introduction

The evidence used in this practice tool came from a Research in Practice survey sent out to Safeguarding Adults Boards (SABs) and local authorities in 2019 to gather evidence about their experience of barriers and enablers to effective LEs. Individuals from 47 areas responded to the survey, all of whom had organised or participated in a range of LEs.

Safeguarding Adult Reviews are about learning

SABs have a duty to hold a review of any situation in their area where an adult with care and support needs has died or has experienced ‘serious abuse or neglect’ and ‘there is reasonable cause for concern about how the SAB, members of it or other persons with relevant functions worked together to safeguard the adult’ (Care Act 2014, s44).

A SAB may arrange for there to be a review of ‘any other case involving an adult in its area with needs for care and support’ (Care Act 2014, s44.4). This can include using a SAR to identify learning from practice that has made a positive difference and can be applied in similar situations.

Each member of the SAB must cooperate in and contribute to the carrying out of a review under this section with a view to ‘identifying the lessons to be learnt from the adult’s case, and applying those lessons to future cases’.

The purpose of a SAR is to identify useful learning to help prevent similar situations arising in the future. The SAR needs to look beyond records or written reports and explore the financial, legal, political and social context in which the work was undertaken. How these contexts impact upon the situation under review can best be understood by working with the people involved at the time, by understanding the perspectives of practitioners and managers, and the impact of contextual factors on their thinking and decision-making.

What is a ‘learning event?’

A ‘learning event’ (LE) can be defined as a facilitated meeting with an invited group of participants held for the purpose of learning. LEs are valuable opportunities for organisations who are part of a local safeguarding system to develop and implement learning from SARs and to reflect on the impact of completed action plans arising from SAR recommendations.

Why are LEs useful?

LEs can be used at three stages in the process of learning from a SAR. There is no limit on how often LEs can be held during the SAR and post SAR process. A LE could be considered during and after the SAR process to support the ownership of the learning, recommendations and actions across the safeguarding partnership.

There are three stages of SAR LEs:

  • Stage 1 – as part of the SAR methodology.
  • Stage 2 – after a SAR to share findings.
  • Stage 3 – one year on, or at an agreed interval.

Survey respondents identified four key factors that will support effective LEs:

  • Creating a positive learning environment.
  • Planning and preparation for collaborative learning.
  • Facilitation to create the learning environment.
  • Processes which support effective LEs.

Virtual learning events

At the time of writing face-to-face LEs are not being held as part of the UK social distancing measures to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection.

Virtual learning events pose some challenges to dialogue. Initial feedback from LE facilitator suggests free-flowing discussion on some of the deeper contextual issues within the SAR can be hard to achieve. The facilitator may not be able to ‘read the room’ or accurately pick up emotion from an individual’s body language.

The following are tips from the learning so far:

Before the LE
Personal communication from the facilitator to participants, alongside pre-reading and information about what will happen in the event, plus the group rules, help to start a connection with the facilitator and the event. Create an overall structure for the event which can be shared with participants beforehand.

The platform used
Try to use a platform that will allow the use of ‘breakout rooms’ where participants can meet and talk through aspects of the review and then report back to the main group. Some platforms have ‘whiteboards’ or facilities to record and share thoughts; other allow participants to share documents which may be notes written up during discussion. Think about the ‘gallery’ the platform offers; some allow for more people to be seen at any one time than others, useful if you want to see how people are generally responding to the LE.

Timing
Virtual environments are tiring for participants. Try to work for a maximum of three hours, with a long break in the middle or plenty of opportunities for offline tasks.

During the event
The facilitator should look into the screen and try to hold eye contact with the camera (and, therefore, participants) as much as possible. Avoid fiddling with anything or frequently looking away from the screen. It is helpful if the top third of the facilitator’s body can be seen, hands and arms add to overall communication.

Ideally, people should keep their cameras on but voices muted to avoid external noise distracting others. Using the ‘hand-up’ function helps keep the discussion smooth.

Smile, look confident, and be warm and humorous where possible. Recognise that people are doing a very tough job at the moment, be appreciative of what they are doing and their participation in the LE.

Activities

Use as many different activities as possible to help participants remain actively engaged.

After the event

Do ask for feedback about how the LE could be improved.

 

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