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February 2024

Just one thing … anyone can do

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

I am sure you will have heard of the BBC podcast ‘Just One Thing’, presented by Michael Mosley (a British television journalist, producer and presenter).

The idea is simple … if time is tight, what's the one thing that you should be doing to improve your health and wellbeing? In each episode, Michael Mosley reveals surprisingly simple tips that are scientifically proven to change your life.

I was listening to episode 4 on  cold water swimming. (I was interested as I take a cold shower each morning … a topic for a future blog perhaps). The science on cold water swimming points to increased energy levels, improved mood, reduced inflammation and perhaps better brain health too. Some new research suggests cold water swimming produces a protein that could help protect against dementia.

Could we take this idea of ‘just one thing’ into adult safeguarding? Is there just one thing we can do across all agencies and services to boost our safeguarding adults network?

I think there is. And it’s something anyone can do. It is … holding a multi-agency meeting.

Of course, the multi-agency (or ‘professionals’ or a ‘multi-disciplinary team’) meeting is not a new approach to collaborative working across services. I know for sure a good number are held each month

We have a wide range of existing options to support joint and multi-agency working, including for safeguarding. These types of meetings are unique in that they help:

1.    provide a faster, more co-ordinated response through improved information sharing between partners

2.    improve identification and recognition of concerns, risks and threats to the person which can be understood more clearly across agencies

3.    enable joint problem solving and clearer accountability

4.    maximise the effectiveness of multi-agency decision making, helping to build an earlier, richer picture.

Multi-agency meetings in action – learning from SARs

A great recent example is from the Safeguarding Adults Report (SAR) for Adult P, published this month.

Adult P was a white male, aged 37 when he died in August 2021. Adult P experienced a great deal of trauma as a child. He was abused sexually and physically. He suffered a back injury in 2019 and as a result he used a mobility scooter. He had a history of falls, mental ill health, drug and alcohol use. Concerns were raised that Adult P was allowing people to come into his home, and they were threatening him. This SAR helped us look at:

–      cuckooing and exploitation

–      the implementation and use of Assistive Technology in homes

–      effective handover of information between housing providers and

–      non-attendance at appointments.

Following an admission to hospital, Adult P had a period of respite support at a care home. His mental state deteriorated further and a professionals meeting was used to further discuss safety planning for when Adult P would leave respite care. A great preventative piece of work.

The topic of multi-agency meetings featured in another soon-to-be-completed SAR for Adult S. Adult S was a white male in his early 70s when he took his own life. Adult S felt unsafe at home; he had actively sought help from many sources, and his vulnerabilities left him at risk.

A multi-agency meeting had been held to discuss how best to support him, but not all the agencies were invited. During the panel discussion about this, several further points emerged. These included:

  • a perception that some agencies may have more ‘authority’ to call a multi-agency meeting. This is not the case, and any agency can use this approach as part of their work to support a person.
  • the agency calling the meeting may not know all the other services involved. This can be difficult, particularly in complex cases, but if you are not sure who needs to attend, why not quickly sound out a colleague from another service you do know is involved. Ask, who do we need at the table?
  • other partners may not attend. While this is always a possibility, my experience is people will do their very best to be involved, if they understand the importance of the meeting (see below)
  • the agency that calls the professionals meeting will be left with all the actions and responsibilities. This should not be the case, as these types of meetings are about joint planning and problem solving, to agree shared objectives to support the person

Using a multi-agency meeting would be the expected way to progress any situation where you have been unable to meet the need / mitigate the risk as a single agency.

Tips for calling a multi-agency meeting


  • What exactly is your concern?
  • What risks have you identified? Have they changed, are there new risks?
  • What are the views of the individual, or their representative if appropriate?
  • Do you have any concerns about the mental capacity of the individual?
  • What agencies do you need input from and why? Often, discussion and collaboration at this level will support the need identified. Where it does not, and where the risks identified are higher (to the individual or wider), consider if a specific meeting would be more effective
  • Are you clear about the purpose of the multi-agency meeting, and who should be there? There may be parallel multi-agency meetings happening as well, especially where there is concern around high risk of serious harm eg from domestic abuse.

Tips to ensure attendance

  • in your invitation state why the person is being asked, particularly if there is a specific risk relating to their specialism or service
  • state clearly how multi-agency approaches seek to prevent harm and mitigate risk
  • make direct contact to explain the importance of their contribution
  • escalate where necessary through your line management, using the Managing Professional Difficulties process if required
  • If they can’t attend, ask if they could provide an alternative contact / deputy in their place

Remember, if you are asked to participate in a multi-agency meeting, make sure you understand why you have been invited. If you don’t believe you are the right person, please help explain why and identify an alternative. If you cannot make the date / time, send a representative who is briefed with the right information.

If the SAR is the tool to help us find safeguarding adults ‘weak spots’ in our system, here is just one thing to help us change our practice:

Encourage and reaffirm the use of a multi-agency meeting – it’s a quick win we all can take, to support our safeguarding partnership and make Norfolk a safer place.

It is just one thing … anyone can do. If you do use it, please let me know how you get on.

Thank you.

Walter Lloyd-Smith

NSAB Board Manager

Email: [email protected]