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Making safeguarding personal

The Local Government Association (LGA) has developed a practice toolkit handbook on Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP), which guides you through the best approach and effective application of safeguarding, with a range of helpful tools and practice based case examples.

What is MSP

Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP) is an initiative which aims to develop a person-centred and outcomes focus to safeguarding work in supporting people to improve or resolve their circumstances. MSP is applicable to all agencies working with adults in relation to safeguarding, including those at the initial stages of a safeguarding concern being identified. This guidance is designed to provide advice on how best to engage with adults, and work in a committed, multi-agency partnership approach to the subject.

MSP – 6 Principles

  • Empowerment
  • Prevention
  • Proportionality
  • Protection
  • Partnership
  • Accountability

What MSP seeks to achieve

  1. A personalised approach enabling safeguarding to be done with and not to people, using practical methods defined by the adults individual needs rather than those of an organisation
  2. The outcomes an adult wants, by determining these at the beginning of working with them, and ascertaining if those outcomes were realised at the end
  3. Improvement to people’s circumstances rather than on ‘investigation and conclusion’
  4. Utilisation of person-centred practice rather than ‘putting people through a process’
  5. Good outcomes for people by working with them in a timely way, rather than one constrained by timescales
  6. Improved practice by supporting a range of methods for staff learning and development
  7. Learning through sharing good practice
  8. Further development of recording systems in order to understand what works well
  9. Broader cultural change and commitment within organisations, to enable practitioners, families, teams and the Safeguarding Board to know what difference has been made.

All organisations should consider the implications for the ongoing professional development of their workforces in relation to MSP.

Guidance notes

Providing personalised information and advice: People cannot make decisions about their lives unless they know what the options are, what the implications of those options may be and have had the chance to really consider them. Professionals involved in dealing with safeguarding concerns should take time to consider what information needs to be made available to assist people at the right times, in the right place, in what format, and allowing time for information to be digested.

We have a number of policies, procedures and guidance notes to help support you.

Supported decision making and freedom from undue influence

Supported decision making focuses on the outcomes the person wishes to achieve, what is working in their lives and what is not. There should be a mechanism to clearly guide and record the ‘conversation’ about choice and risk. There may be areas of disagreement between people, their family carers and practitioners, needing negotiation and support. Attention needs to be given to the support needs of those with special language and sensory needs, giving the individual the best chance to make decisions for themselves.

Advocacy and involvement

Self-advocacy, long term citizen advocacy and peer advocacy are all useful in preventing abuse and responding to concerns by supporting the wellbeing and rights of people involved. Issue based advocacy enables people to participate in the safeguarding enquiry by supporting them to review options, decide upon outcomes, and participate in discussions and decision-making. Collective advocacy may have a place in settings where abuse has previously occurred and people who live there want to influence changes.

Mental capacity and best interests

In all cases where a person has been assessed to lack capacity in a relevant issue, a best interest’s decision must be made. A balance sheet approach may be helpful in order to determine where a person’s best interests lie. This is about weighing up the factors in favour and against a particular decision or course of action. Only to weigh up one set of risks (for example, in preserving the status quo) without weighing up alternative risks (of changing the status quo) will not give the full picture necessary for a best interests decision. Other people may have a formal role in this process such as a Deputy, Attorney (via a Lasting Power of Attorney) or a Relevant Person’s Representative (RPR). An Independent Advocate or other professional such as an interpreter may also have a part to play, as well as family members or friends who might be involved as an informal advocate/substitute; and of course the adults’ views and wishes should still be considered, whilst continuing to remember that the adult may regain capacity. Professionals should encourage participation by consulting anyone who has a relevant interest, and by identifying all of the circumstances without making assumptions, and restricting the person’s rights (discrimination).

Signs of wellbeing and safety

By mapping out the case situation, the practitioner and service user can see how wellbeing is defined, and signs of improvement are found through a range of informal and formalised methods.

Dealing with risk in particular relationships, Including when employing personal assistants: The emphasis is on getting to know the person well enough to understand their family situation, their friends and social contacts as well as their community, in order to assess the strength of wider support networks. Working to reduce potential isolation and dependency on one person is helpful in preventing and responding to high risk in caring situations. Risk assessment models such as ‘Signs of Safety’, which look at danger, safety and strengths, could be considered, as could a ‘Circle of Support’, peer and volunteer support and organisations.

Building resillience, confidence, assertiveness, self-esteem and respect

Taking a ‘strengths’ perspective to assessment in safeguarding assists the practitioner to recognise the person’s skills and capacity to manage stress, and influences practitioners to provide or impart the coping skills necessary for a person to manage problem situations: assertiveness work with individuals or groups; peer support; therapeutic counselling; drama, art and music therapies.

Brief interventions and micro skills

Brief interventions aim to equip people with tools to change attitudes and handle underlying problems. These interventions may be of help with individuals who are making capacitated but high risk choices at various stages of safeguarding, or who appear to be reluctant at a particular point in time to engage in processes that help them to change their circumstances:

  • Attachment based approaches (relevant to adults)
  • Motivational interviewing
  • Counselling
  • Achieving best evidence

The provision of advice may also be helpful in ensuring the person knows where to go when they do decide to seek support or wish to change their circumstances.

Support for people who have caused harm

There are some contexts where work with people who have caused harm or abused someone else is relevant to adult safeguarding. This might be helpful when:

  • Someone wants the abuse to stop, not the relationship
  • The person who is causing the harm is willing to address the impact of and change their behaviours
  • There has been a family history of intergenerational abuse
  • There are linked substance misuse, mental health or mental capacity issues in relation to the person who is causing the harm or abuse
  • Carers are under stress or the person causing harm is vulnerable Carers
  •  An institution identifies harmful behaviours that may be subject to change in their staff group (alongside supervision, appraisal, disciplinary)
  • Through the criminal justice system to prevent continued harmful or abusive behaviours. Vulnerable Witnesses – Awareness for Social Workers
  • The Witness Charter
  • A step by step guide to being a witness
  • HM Courts and Tribunal Service

Supporting individuals impacted by abuse, domestic and sexual abuse.

We aim to stop abuse or neglect wherever possible, prevent harm and reduce the risk of abuse or neglect to adults who need care and support. To help us decide what to do, we'll always contact the adult at risk or experiencing abuse or neglect. What they want to happen is very important. We'll try to talk to them first, even if it is difficult for them to communicate what has happened.

If the person has substantial difficulty with being involved, then we may ask for an independent advocate to help them understand what is happening and to help them express their views.The person telling us about the possible abuse or neglect can remain anonymous.You can use the information from the NHS England website to get more information and advice on Domestic violence and abuse to get advice or raise a concern. After talking with the person at risk or experiencing abuse or neglect we'll then make enquiries about the circumstances of the abuse or neglect .We may talk to other people, such as family members, staff, GPs, friends and possibly the police. If the police tell us that a crime has been committed, then they may investigate what has happened.

We will support the adult at risk to help them decide what they want to happen and then concentrate on improving the situation for that person and address what has caused the abuse or neglect. If we think that you or anyone you told us about is at immediate risk of harm we will act very quickly to protect you or the adult at risk of abuse or neglect.

Keeping safe from fire at home

Domestic smoke alarms are not always sufficient to save lives of adults at risk in their own homes. Find out what additional resources are available on the London Fire Brigade website

Evaluation of safeguarding enquiries and MSP

The effective evaluation of safeguarding enquiries is a crucial part of MSP and fundamental to the principles of improving, and learning through sharing good practice. Therefore the engagement of the adult in the evaluation of a safeguarding enquiry, by statutory services, should follow the same guidelines previously outlined in ‘providing personalised information’.

You may find the individual service user feedback form useful, which is a questionnaire for service users to provide information on their thoughts and opinions regarding their safeguarding process.


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