What did the Citizen Survey tell us?
75% of adults who completed the standard version of the questionnaire reported that they feel safe. As with previous years, the overriding theme for this group of people is the fear of falling and therefore not feeling confident when moving around independently.
Aware of my physical vulnerabilities.
Safe from others, but will always have possibility of falling.
We work closely with the Falls Prevention Team at Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board to provide support to people who are at risk of falling. This may take the form of:
- The provision of appropriate literature
- Exercise classes
- One-to-one community physiotherapy
- Community-based activities
- A home safety assessment
- A medication review by a GP or pharmacist
- A referral to podiatry or optometry services
The North Wales Falls Prevention Programme is supported by partners from the NHS, Local Authority and the third sector throughout the county.
88% of adults who completed the easy-read version of the questionnaire reported feeling safe. Those who don’t are more likely to feel unsafe out at night or in crowds.
83% of Carers feel safe. Additional comments portray a range of reasons for not feeling safe, including physical limitations, fear of falling, caring for someone with dementia who may be aggressive or display bullying behaviour, or simply worrying about what the future holds for the cared-for person if they are left alone.
I am ill myself and not really in a position to be caring for anybody.
I sometimes worry if I have an accident…what would happen to my husband?
85% of children feel safe, with a further 10% feeling safe some of the time.
I feel safe at home but worry about people outside of home.
They always make sure I’m safe no matter where I go.
Safeguarding is Everyone’s Business
We are working hard to ensure that all staff in Conwy receive training on safeguarding issues. During the 2017-18 period we introduced online training on Violence Against Women, Domestic and Sexual Abuse (VAWDASA) and Safeguarding of Adults and Children at Risk.
This mandatory training raises awareness for all new and existing staff and Elected Members. Safeguarding training has also been provided to third sector and direct care workforces who help us to deliver services.
During Safeguarding Week (12-17 November 2018) we promoted a series of 7-minute briefings available on the North Wales Safeguarding Board’s website. These provided staff with the opportunity to dip into a variety of safeguarding themes, raise their awareness and be signposted to further information.
We have Designated Safeguarding Managers who are the responsible leads for safeguarding within each service area of the Council. For a consistent approach to safeguarding across the organisation, development days have been introduced for these post-holders. So far the sessions have focused on domestic abuse and sexual abuse, where key speakers with specialisms in these areas have been invited to present. Our safeguarding web pages continue to be developed and offer an opportunity for anyone to report a safeguarding issue if they are worried about someone. Our Corporate Safeguarding Policy outlines the Authority’s responsibilities around safeguarding and the process for reporting concerns.
Does promoting Safeguarding work?
- By raising the profile of adult safeguarding and improving multi-agency working, the number of protection plans for adult safeguarding has risen from 76 in 2016-17 to 114 in 2017-18.
- The risk that vulnerable adults suffer or become subject to abuse or neglect is reduced because staff and the public are fully aware of the need to safeguard and know what to do if there is a safeguarding issue.
- Safeguarding becomes integral to our working practices and culture.
Participation and Collaboration
Throughout the service we participate in a range of safeguarding groups both at a local and regional level which cover both adults’ and children’s sections. These include the North Wales Regional Safeguarding Board (adults and children), Conwy and Denbighshire Practice Delivery Group, workforce and training groups to name but a few. We also monitor our operational processes through regular performance reports, the Safeguarding Forum and timely access to legal advice if needed.
Getting meaningful engagement and participation remains a challenge. However, this year Conwy undertook a pilot of the collaborative skills approach to casework in the Assessment and Support Team. Parents, Carers and young people gave positive feedback on the service received, which will contribute to service developments in Children’s Social Care.
An ongoing challenge remains the need to improve paternal involvement in the Child Protection Conferencing and Core Group process as the percentage rate of engagement is slightly falling.
The Chair routinely offers to meet absent fathers to discuss the processes and solicit their written views if attendance at conferences is not possible.
Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE)
Conwy has invested considerable time and effort to increase awareness and ensure communication across agencies in the last twelve months. The Child Sexual Exploitation forum is held every six weeks, led by Social Care with multi-agency input, as well as other departments within the Authority. Social Workers and their Team Managers produce a bulletin following the forum for internal managers within the Children and Families Service which includes young people (alleged victims), adults (alleged perpetrators), locations, trends and themes. Recently, a Children’s Service Social Worker piloted and facilitated a learning set on a CSE case that involved not only the Social Worker, but also those other internal and external professionals actively involved in the case. Positive feedback was gained and consideration is being given to see if this can be offered again in the future to colleagues.
There is an ethos of good partnership working in Conwy between Social Workers and North Wales Police particularly Police Constables and Police Community Support Officers as these are the professionals who deal with CSE on a day-to-day basis.
From January 2019, the Forum has been relaunched and is now an ‘Exploitation Forum’ in order to take into account other forms of exploitation such as Primary CSE and Child Criminal Exploitation (CCE).
Conwy staff have contributed to the ‘Mirror Mirror’ drama production (Gwella Project) that was rolled out across North Wales. Social Care staff liaised with colleagues in Education in order to ensure all Conwy secondary schools opted in. This is aimed at children in years 7 and 8 of secondary school across the North Wales region.
Conwy received a Social Care Accolade in September 2018 for leading a multi-agency initiative to reduce child sexual exploitation. The initiative involved our partners in BCUHB, Education, North Wales Police and Conwy Youth Services, and included private businesses in Conwy. The judges said it was the best example of joint working they had seen in Wales.
We are piloting ‘Wellbeing Ambassadors’ in two Conwy secondary schools. This ongoing work is building upon good collaboration work with multi-agencies, professionals and the voluntary sector. There are two different elements to this pupil role but we will look to cover themes related to CSE and CCE in addition to key wellbeing topics such as mental health, self-harm, domestic violence and substance misuse. We are giving further consideration to piloting a similar multi-agency well-being-themed programme with parents in Conwy’s new Family Centres.
We have also been invited to present our work on CSE/CCE following our success at the Social Care Accolades to Social Work students at Bangor University.
Handling complex cases
Conwy’s Edge of Care panel was created to ensure that managers across the service areas have oversight and a quality assurance role on more complex cases for those young people who may be at risk of becoming looked after, ensuring that safeguards are in place to protect them. We carried out an audit which concluded that the Edge of Care Panel supports less experienced social workers and provides an opportunity to explore alternative means of support with partner agency input. It concluded that approximately 80% of children discussed at panel were supported to remain with their families. The panel is still evolving and will be developed further in line with the planned Edge of Care Service developments.
We have identified key factors which contribute to a successful intervention:
- Providing a trusting adult for the young person to confide in
- Information sharing
- Relationship-building between all parties
- Structured, clear plans which are regularly reviewed
- Clear roles and expectations
- Focus on also effecting parental change
- Proactive, focused approach
- Persistence and consistency
- Multi-agency presence and input
Developments in Adult Safeguarding
Self-Neglect Work Group
The Self Neglect Work Group was established in February 2017. The purpose of this group is to improve practice, and support Social Workers who work with people who self-neglect. Often, the Social Worker was the only professional involved and quite often these individuals were reluctant to engage and can be in high risk situations. In the last year the group has expanded to include attendees from Mental Health, Housing, Welsh Ambulance, Fire Safety, Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB) and Legal, as well as Social Care. At each monthly group meeting, a guest speaker shares their knowledge of self-neglect. As examples, we have had talks from an Occupational Therapist who specialises in hoarding and a solicitor who has advised on the law regarding self-neglect and hoarding. Social Workers also present their cases to the group, following which, multi-agency advice, guidance and support is offered.
Any individual who is considered to have high risk needs due to self-neglect is invited to a multi-agency meeting, along with their family/carer. This approach ensures that the individual is kept at the centre of the process.
We will be working with our Health and Safety team to develop a risk assessment guidance sheet. This will ensure that individuals who self-neglect or hoard have a robust risk assessment.
Adult Safeguarding Forum
The Adult Safeguarding Forum has re-established and is held on a bi-monthly basis. Each relevant service within Social Care is represented and contributes to the success of the forum. The aim of the forum is to discuss any new policies, procedures and updates from the North Wales Safeguarding Adults Board. Also, the Forum provides information regarding any training being planned or that has taken place. It is also an arena for adult teams to raise any issues and an opportunity to promote good practice within Safeguarding.
In addition to the standard agenda items, the Forum also extends an invite to guest speakers. To date we have invited North Wales Police to discuss County Lines and Cuckooing. Other topics such as modern slavery, Prevent and advocacy are arranged.
Quality Assuring our Safeguarding Processes
Conwy is committed to quality assurance throughout the whole service, ensuring a total quality management approach. One of the main quality assurance tools is the undertaking of in-service practice reviews using audit tools which provide a structured framework for the process. There is a well-established culture in which casework is routinely examined and audited in a systematic way.
This is not a one-off event or stand-alone activity, but a continuous cycle to plan, action and review services in order to improve outcomes for children and families by developing knowledge and professional practice.
In addition to formal targeted reviews, all managers and staff are responsible for reviewing case records on a regular basis, and ensuring they take prompt action to address gaps in information.
Supervision is a key tool to ensure accountability and support, learning and professional development across the Social Care workforce. An important element in reflective supervision is enabling staff to question their practice, critically analyse and evaluate their experiences, and debrief after challenging or stressful encounters.