“Twenty years ago an adult slapping a young child was acceptable. Today it would cause a major outcry”. Dr Paul Kingston, Professor of Ageing and Mental Health, Staffordshire University and chair of the Leeds Safeguarding Adult Board, insists that “…only when the general Leeds public have the same automatic response to adult abuse will adult safeguarding be considered a success.” He said, “Adults are just as at risk as children.”
Dr Paul Kingston, further discusses adult safeguarding and why the general public are so critical to helping reduce harm by raising the alarm.
“The role of the public is essential. The public needs to raise concerns. We’re only as good as the general public are in reporting to us. The hope is that the public will become as confident in their knowledge of adult safeguarding as they are now about child abuse.
In fact if there are incidences of child abuse, often there are problems in more than one generation of the family. There is often a strong link between child abuse and later adult abuse. The family needs to be treated as a whole. When things go wrong, there are often other relationship problems in the family.
Abuse is just as likely to be committed by a professional or paid carer as a family member, another adult at risk or anyone else. But it can often be difficult for work mates, who regard each other as friend’s not just colleagues, to blow the whistle.
The best way forward is for all services – adults, children’s, community safety is to start working together and provide support in all areas of peoples’ lives.”
The safe-guarding team have also provided us with a case study below of how safeguarding has helped one individual live a ‘Better Life’.
Mike is in his early 20s; he attends college and lives at the family home with his mother and father. Mike has autism which means he has difficulty with social situations and needs support with some aspects of his life.
One day, Mike tells his social worker about the problems he is having with his father. Mike reports that his father often tells him he is ‘useless’ and a ‘waste of space’. Mike says his father gets very frustrated with him and has hit him on occasion. Mike is very upset and does not know what to do.
A safeguarding referral was made by the social worker. Mike chose to stay with a relative whilst the concerns were being investigated. The safeguarding investigation uncovered a range of difficulties that Mike was having at home. The deteriorating health of Mike’s mother was adding to the stress of family life, and Mike’s father had difficulty understanding and coping with his autism.
A case conference meeting was held to review the findings of the investigation and to consider how best to support Mike in the future. The meeting included Mike, his family and all the people involved in supporting Mike. Mike decided he did not want to live at home anymore. A supported tenancy placement was found for Mike, where he is learning to develop his independent living skills and is gaining new friendships. Mike continues to visit his mother regularly at the family home. He knows that he can be collected or go to a relative’s home nearby if there are any problems when he visits. However, in this way he has managed to maintain contact with his mother and father without the pressures that have led to abusive incidents at home. Mike is pleased with these new arrangements.
Our thanks to Dr Kingston for sharing his thoughts for the Better Lives blog.