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March 2022

Home is where …

With two days off at the end of February, I did some jobs around the home. We all have them … lists of things to be done. Some jobs on the list are things like life admin … some work/projects on the house. Stopping for a cup of tea while chopping up some wood and sorting out the shed (a bit) I looked back at our house from the end of the garden. It led me to think about ... what turns a house into a ‘home’?

Shows like Grand Designs, Homes Under the Hammer, Amazing Spaces are very popular. We work hard to change a house into a home‘There’s no place like home’ said Judy Garland's character Dorothy in the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz describing in one phase the important concept the home has. It is more than a place. It’s a cultural concept, an ideal. We talk about where we live with phrases like home sweet home (this is taken from a song from the opera Clari, or the Maid of Milan which was first performed at Covent Garden, London in 1823).

Certain ideas are inextricably linked to our homes. Feeling safe, secure, a rest from the world, a safe harbour, a place in which we are most comfortable, a place which reflects who we are, our personality. A place we spend many hours in (not forgetting those who do not have a fixed home, or are in a temporary one – some people feel very ‘at home’ on the streets).

The ‘home’ also has a different role. During the last two years it was more important than ever, as it took on a new role to combat the pandemic. Stay at home. To read more about our homes see the Canadian-American architect Witold Rybczynski book Home: A Short History of an Idea. Rybczynski says:

Humans have always sought a place to live, he writes, but that has by no means always been a place to call “home” – at least not in the way we think of it today. Home turns out to be a restless, shifting, elusive notion’

In a 2012 article ‘The Definition of HomeVerlyn Klinkenborg writes ‘Home is home, and everything else is not-home. That’s the way the world is constructed.’

We also know home is where most abuse and harm happen.

The national Safeguarding Adults Collection (SAC) data for the period 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 showed us that the most common location of risk to someone was the person’s own home at 50%.

A person is more at risk of abuse at home if:

  • they are isolated and do not have much contact with friends, family or neighbours
  • they have memory problems or difficulty communicating
  • they become dependent on a carer
  • they do not get on with their carer
  • their carer is addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • their carer relies on the person for a home, or financial or emotional support

The location of abuse and harm is an important issue for safeguarding. On the 24 February the government published Terms of Reference for a joint review led by the Home Office and DHSC – Safe Care at Home. This review has been prompted by concerns raised by disabled and deaf people’s organisations that existing safeguards are not adequate, where the carer fell outside the definition of domestic abuse provided by the Domestic Abuse Act 2021.

This review will look at existing protections and support for adults at risk of or experiencing abuse in their own home by people providing their care at home (home being a people’s own homes where they permanently reside whether rented, provided by the local authority or owned). Those providing care are defined as:

  • Personally connected’ individuals with caring roles for the person: defined in the DA Act, but includes family members, intimate partners and people who were or are civil partners or married
  • unpaid carers: (eg neighbour or, friends)
  • paid carers: employed care workers, Personal Assistants, and other paid individuals in a position of trust who provide care for the person
  • volunteers: individuals who provide care as part of a voluntary organisation to the person.

This review will help to inform and strengthen our approaches to safeguarding adults in Norfolk.

In the meantime, if your work role involves visiting people in their own home, you can use what we know about location of abuse as a prompt to keep the possibilities of  abuse and harm on your ‘checklist’. To help you refresh your professional curiosity around abuse, NSAB has guidance here.

Thank you.
Walter Lloyd-Smith
NSAB Board Manager

Email: walter.lloyd-smith@norfolk.gov.uk

Thursday 03 March 2022