Models of adult safeguarding in England: findings from a study of costs and referral outcomes

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

British Journal of Social Work 2016, 47, 4: 1224—1244

Available online 14 Apr 2016

Abstract

Adult safeguarding is the subject of increasing attention in England and internationally. This article draws on research which developed a typology of ‘models of safeguarding’. ‘Models’ refer to different ways local authorities in England organise adult safeguarding (about which there is little evidence) rather than ‘model’ approaches to be emulated. The four models identified were: Dispersed-Generic (safeguarding work undertaken by operational teams); Dispersed-Specialist (safeguarding work undertaken partly by specialist social workers located in operational teams); Partially Centralised-Specialist (some safeguarding work undertaken by a central specialist safeguarding team); and Fully-Centralised-Specialist (all safeguarding work undertaken by a specialist safeguarding team). We explored associations between these models and other important variables (numbers of referrals, kinds of alleged abuse and characteristics of adults at risk) and outcomes. The article reports secondary analysis of English local authority safeguarding referral data and on the possible different costs of different models. Dispersed-Specialist sites appeared to have a higher rate of substantiating alleged abuse compared with other models. Statistical correlations were found with types of victim profiles and the perpetrator/victim relationship. It may be that decisions about local organisation of safeguarding are more affected by local organisational contexts than local authority model.