Implementing safeguarding and personalisation in social work: Findings from practice

Stevens M, Woolham J, Manthorpe J, Aspinall F, Hussein S, Baxter K, Samsi K, Ismail M

Journal of Social Work 2016,

Available online 28 May 2016

Abstract

Summary
This paper reports on part of a research study carried out in three local authority adult social care departments in England, which explored links between adult safeguarding and personalisation. The study included statistical analysis of data on safeguarding referrals and the take up of personal budgets and qualitative interviews with managers, social workers, other staff working on safeguarding and with service users. The paper reports the findings from 16 interviews with managers and social workers, highlighting their perspectives and experiences.

Findings
Five main themes emerged from our analysis: contexts and risk factors; views about risks associated with Direct Payments, approaches to minimising risk; balancing risk and choice; and weaving safeguarding and personalisation practice. Social workers identified similar ranges and kinds of risks to those identified in the national evaluation of Individual Budgets. They described a tension between policy objectives and their exercise of discretion to assess and manage risks. For example, some described how they would discourage certain people from taking their personal budget as a Direct Payment or suggest they take only part of a personal budget as a Direct Payment.

Application
This exploratory study supports the continued need for skilled social workers to deliver outcomes related to both safeguarding and personalisation policies. Implementing these policies may entail a new form of ‘care and control’, which may require specific approaches in supervision in order to ensure good practice is fostered and positive outcomes attained.