The advantages and disadvantages of different models of organising adult safeguarding

Norrie C, Stevens M, Graham K, Moriarty J, Hussein S, Manthorpe J

British Journal of Social Work 2016, 47, 4: 1205—1223

Available online 7 May 2016


Professionals express divergent views about whether adults at risk are best served by safeguarding work being incorporated into social workers’ casework or being undertaken by specialist workers within local area or centralised teams. This paper draws on findings from the final two phases of a three-phase study which aimed to identify a typology of different models of organising adult safeguarding and compare the advantages and disadvantages of these. We used mixed-methods to investigate four different models of organising adult safeguarding which we termed: A) Dispersed-Generic, B) Dispersed-Specialist, C) Partly-Centralised-Specialist and D) Fully-Centralised-Specialist. In each model, we analysed staff interviews (n = 38), staff survey responses (n = 206), feedback interviews (with care home managers, solicitors and Independent Mental Capacity Advocates) (n = 28), Abuse of Vulnerable Adults (AVA) Returns, Adult Social Care User Survey Returns (ASCS) and service costs. This paper focuses on qualitative data from staff and feedback interviews and the staff survey. Our findings focus on safeguarding as a specialism, safeguarding practice (including multi-agency working, prioritisation, tensions, handover, staff confidence and deskilling) and managing safeguarding. Local authority (LA) participants described and commented on the advantages and disadvantages of their organisational model. Feedback interviews offered different perspectives on safeguarding services and implications of different models.