Listen to my safeguarding story

This briefing note is intended for the use of safeguarding and workforce development leads within organisations to support the development of safeguarding practice.

With the support of Advonet and a Citizen Panel the Leeds Safeguarding Adults Board has been seeking to hear from citizens with lived experience our multi-agency safeguarding adults policy and procedures. We wanted to know what we can do in Leeds to improve safeguarding practice and citizen experiences of support.

Five key messages for practice

1. Talk to me, hear my voice

A key message from people with lived experience is that good communication can make all the difference to someone's support and their experience of safeguarding. One person said: "The social worker was really good throughout it all, we speak a lot" and it was apparent that this made all the difference when coping with difficult circumstances.

2. The importance of advocacy

The role of an advocate is to provide a person with support to be involved in decisions. A key message from people with lived experience is that when needed, it is important that independent advocates are sought as early as possible. Some people commented that having an advocate should not mean that practitioners just talk to the advocate, they still need to talk to them and hear their voice.

3. Help me to know what to expect

People welcomed knowing about the process, what was happening next, and how they would be involved. Safeguarding procedures and processes and even the language will be new and unfamiliar to many people. A key message from people with lived experience is that they need someone to talk them through what is happening and what to expect.

4. Outcome meetings can provide closure

An outcome meeting is sometimes needed after a safeguarding enquiry to manage risk and to ensure an effective safeguarding plan is put in place. A key message from people with lived experience, is that sometimes an outcome meeting with the practitioners involved can also help to bring closure to a traumatic experience.

5. Recognise the impact you can have in difficult circumstances

Another key message from people with lived experience, is that whatever your role in supporting people to be safe, your support changes lives. One person said: "Social services and my advocate were literally life savers… my experience was fantastic'. In difficult and sometimes traumatic circumstances, everyone needs to appreciate the valuable roles they have and the positive impact they can have on someone's life.

Five actions you can take

This is what practitioners can do to take forward this citizen feedback:

1. Consider if there is more you can do to hear the voice of the person at risk, to involve them in safeguarding decisions and to let them know what is happening.

2. Involve advocates early where needed to enable people to be involved in decisions; but don't stop talking to the person at risk.

3. Help people to understand the process and what to expect.

4. If it is your role to manage safeguarding arrangements, consider if holding a meeting will help the person at risk achieve resolution.

5. Recognise the role you have in someone's life and the difference you can make.