When it comes to safeguarding adults, reviews are carried out throughout the UK in order to understand and analyse cases where abuse or neglect is known or suspected. Each region has its own name for its reviews – Serious Case Reviews are relevant to Northern Ireland. Please select another region to find out about its type of review: England, Scotland and Wales.
Northern Ireland is currently developing and improving its adult safeguarding approaches and policies to align them to current child protection arrangements. Currently there is no specific legislation covering adult safeguarding, rather adult safeguarding rests on the interpretation of the 2015 policy ‘Adult safeguarding prevention and protection in partnership’. This has contributed fragmented and inconsistent responses in adult safeguarding practice.
In 2018, the first investigation into abuse at Dunmurry Manor Care Home was completed by the Commissioner for Older People in Northern Ireland (‘Home Truths’) and an Independent Review by the Department for Health of adult safeguarding systems in relation to abuse at Dunmurry. There is much to be celebrated, yet there is more work to do and the full role of the Northern Ireland Adult Safeguarding Partnership (NIASP) and respective Local Adult Safeguarding Partnerships (LASPs) is likely to develop further over time.
This module will provide an overview of current practice, focusing on responsibilities for SCRs and outlining the direction of the work Northern Ireland is engaged in. SCRs drawn from the UK will demonstrate the importance of reviews and their implications for improvement in adult safeguarding practice.
Northern Ireland Safeguarding Partnership (NIASP)
It is the role of the Northern Ireland Safeguarding Partnership (NIASP) to undertake a Serious Case Review when an adult has died, or experienced significant harm as the result of abuse and neglect.
SCRs are underpinned by the policy document ‘Adult Safeguarding Prevention and Protection in Partnership’ (2015); there is currently no legislative framework.
The purpose of an SCR is to:
An SCR is required where a vulnerable adult:
An SCR is also required when:
The overall purpose of an SCR is to learn and improve. There are four areas in particular which can contribute to further learning and improvement. They can be helpful to:
There are numerous questions which can be asked which can help make a SCR more effective.
What happened? Overview of the case to establish the facts
What could have been done to prevent abuse and/or neglect? What actions could have been taken to stop the abuse from happening?
Is there typicality in the contextual factors and the responses of agencies? Are there similar challenges, or difficulties within agencies that could have contributed to the abuse and/or neglect?
What changes to the way in which agencies operate could help to prevent abuse/neglect? Identifying actions that could improve child safeguarding procedures to reduce the risk of harm to children and young people.
Have agencies changed their practices as a result of this learning? What changes in organisations have been made to support improvement in adult safeguarding practice?
Local Adult Safeguarding Partnerships (LASP) are the lead local agencies and are responsible for adult protection in their local areas. They develop community-based prevention plans, which increase awareness of adult safeguarding in each of their local areas. These plants are based on guidance provided by the Northern Ireland Adult Safeguarding Partnership (NIASP).
Each Local Adult Safeguarding Partnership takes responsibility for carrying out its own review procedures to investigate serious and untoward incidents. These are reported to the NIASP to then decide if anSCR is required.
LASPs exist in Health and Social Care Trust areas and aim to support the six Health and Social Care Trusts across Northern Ireland: Belfast HSC Trust, South Eastern HSC Trust, Wester HSC Trust, Southern HSC Trust, Northern HSC Trust and the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service.
Each Health and Social Care Trust, with the support and input of the LASP, develops itsown Adult Safeguarding Operational Procedures.
NIASP is a multi-agency, multi-disciplinary partnership. It brings together representatives from a range of statutory, community and voluntary organisations, which have a significant contribution to make to the safeguarding of vulnerable adults.
The NIASP has many different functions including:
For further guidance on regional and local safeguarding partnerships, select the link: Regional and local safeguarding partnerships guidance.
Lessons learned from previous high-profile SCRs have contributed to the current safeguarding practice and policies that Northern Ireland is currently working towards.
The following SCRs were high profile, receiving national attention and can be considered key cornerstones to the improvements and development of adult safeguarding practice in England.
Select each name for more information.
The following case is specific to Northern Ireland. It is an independent review into safeguarding ordered by the DfH. Independent reviews can be ordered where there are national lessons to be learned to improve safeguarding practice nationally. Select the title for more information.