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Better protection for the ‘at-risk’

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Safeguarding Adults Reviews have an important role to play in improving care, but are the right lessons always learned?

Safeguarding Adults Reviews (SARs) are in-depth multidisciplinary studies of the circumstances that have preceded the death of an ‘at-risk’ adult who died as a result of abuse or neglect. SARs can also be arranged if the ‘at-risk’ adult has not died, but they have suffered permanent harm or a reduced quality of life and there are unknown factors about the ways that the local partner agencies worked together to protect the adult.

The Care Act (2014) made it the statutory responsibility of the local safeguarding adults boards (SABs) to coordinate a SAR when it is known or suspected that the agencies involved in protecting an ‘at-risk’ adult, such as social work departments, GPs, practice nurses and community nurses, could have worked more effectively to prevent harm to the adult.

The statutory guidance1 on the Care Act states that the SAB should ordinarily include the findings from any SAR in its annual report, which should be made public. It also states that SAR reports should provide a sound analysis of what happened, why, and what action needs to be taken to prevent a reoccurrence. It should also contain findings of practical value to organisations and professionals. The guidance states that in order to facilitate wider learning, ordinarily SARs should be published but it doesn’t stipulate how or where. SARs are therefore officially recognised as an important tool for learning about safeguarding practice.

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