Headlines: September 17th, 2007

Adult social services leaders have today presented a 7-point plan to the Government to strengthen the law to protect adults from abuse. They are warning that moves towards giving individuals more freedom to spend their own care budgets need to be matched by far greater legal protection against the possibilities of abuse.

The warning from the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services comes after several reports in the last year that have highlighted formally unsuspected levels of abuse of elderly and disabled people as well as fears that some professionals who care for adults do not have the training to be sufficiently aware of signs of abuse.

Anne Williams, President of ADASS said, “The drive towards personalised services is the future of social care. But we must use this as an opportunity to strengthen further the way in which vulnerable people are protected from abuse,” and she added, “We believe that new legislation can play a vital part in this. The statutory changes we seek will become even more necessary as we continue to empower individuals to organise and purchase their own care.”

The seven steps, which have been endorsed by the Executive Council of the Association, include giving social workers powers to enter domestic properties. They also want the sharing of information between statutory agencies and regulators to be made a duty and they want a similar duty of co-operation between agencies with responsibilities for the well-being and care of adults and adult social services departments.

The ADASS is also urging a clarification of the duties and powers of other local authority departments and health agencies across geographical and organisational boundaries and calling for social care workers to be legally obliged to take appropriate action in cases where they suspect a vulnerable adult is being abused. The Association also wants clarity of terminology to replace the current range of expressions used to define abuse.

Dwayne Johnson, the Association’s lead on adult protection issues said it was committed to a number of briefing sessions and activities with other stakeholders to persuade the Government that while it was proper to loosen its grip on the way adults spent benefits they received, it did have to act to protect the interests of people who might be exposed to unprecedented risk.