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January 2024

Starting a new ‘safeguarding’ year: Drawing a few threads together

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 30 seconds

I hope you’ve been able to enjoy some downtime over the Christmas holiday.

If you were working … thank you.

Work that spans the end of one year and the beginning of the new one can feel even more pressured. Across the partnership people are trying to finish tasks and projects before the holidays, getting case assessments done or visits completed. Then some downtime before January is here and back to it, possibly turning next to tasks that need completing before the end of the financial year.

This notion is echoed in wider system ‘conversations’ which talk about ‘winter pressures’, conveying a sense that we are in a particularly uncompromising part of the year’s cycle.

Against a backdrop of wet and cold weather, it can be easy to forget all the good work delivered over the last 12 months. As a festive event, Christmas acts as a gateway to the new year, prompting us to think about what the new year holds in store and all the tasks we need to do.

During the ‘odd’ time between Christmas and New Year I have been thinking about what 2024 safeguarding adults might look like. The NSAB partnership has several important pieces of work to focus on and deliver. For example:

  • our peer review with Wigan SAB is ongoing, due to complete in March
  • piloting a framework document with our acute hospitals
  • opening a Safeguarding Adults Review (SAR) ‘W’; a thematic review looking at hospital discharge and safeguarding adults
  • publishing several Safeguarding Adult Reviews (including SAR P in January) and completing/signing-off a joint Domestic Homicide Review / SAR, SAR R (pressure care & safeguarding)
  • supporting an interim chair for our Safeguarding Adult Review Group*, as a stepping stone to new arrangements for the chair (I hope)

As well as looking forward, I’ve taken this opportunity to look back over the blogs for 2023.

My aim is always to try and find ways to talk about important safeguarding issues, to nudge discussions about how to address these and suggest practical actions that can help in small ways to build confidence and activity. 

Here are some of the standout threads, which I think we can carry forward into 2024. If something catches your attention, please do take a moment to look back at that particular blog:

Conversation to prompt actions

A theme from 2023 has been to encourage discussions through every part of our workforce, across our communities and through our voluntary (see February’s blog) & social enterprise sector. Safeguarding isn't just everyone's business, it's everyday business. From the start of your career to the end, in every conversation (see July’s blog - C is for … Conversations in safeguarding), in our working lives to our leisure time, we are all responsible.

Remember: ‘one good conversation can shift the direction of change forever.’ This is something we can continue to consolidate in 2024.

Building a movement

The March blog was the one that was most read - A shirtless dancing guy and first followers: How to strengthen a movement against abuse and harm of adults. I love this clip and have watched it lots of times. It’s positive and shows what is possible. It says to me … YES, we can make a difference!

The skills we need

June’s blog explored the principles we need to use in our safeguarding practice, (Quiz question … in the six safeguarding principles, what does ‘P’ stand for?). 

The skills we need to be able to recognise, respond to and take action against organisational abuse was something identified in the April 2023 blog.

In a hot August, a refrigerator emergency helped pick up on the essential safeguarding skills.  August was also the month of my ‘epic fail’, with me going to the wrong venue, in the wrong town, in the WRONG county! But it led me to reflect on confirmation bias in safeguarding. Household problems again proved a good prompt in November (A broken door handle), about where we need to go to find essential safeguarding adults information.

So, as we roll into a new year for safeguarding adults, please take a moment to look back on some of the 2023 blogs as an aide memoire to the skills we need to draw on for 2024. If you have new members of staff join your team or services, why not point them in the direction of these blogs to help them build their essential safeguarding adults skills?

Thank you.

Walter Lloyd-Smith
NSAB Board Manager

Email: [email protected]

* I would like to dedicate this blog to Saranna Burgess who stood down as the chair of NSAB’s Safeguarding Adult Review Group (SARG) in mid-December. Saranna took the role of chair six plus years ago, saying she would be happy to do this in the short term. But six years later she was still involved as chair, and supporting this key area of work.

Saranna’s skilful approach and collaborative chairing style have enabled SARG to do its work. Saranna said on a number of occasions that SARG was the one meeting she really enjoyed and it felt truly ‘multi-agency’. Thank you, Saranna, the Norfolk safeguarding adults system will miss you.

We wish you every success in your new role in the west country!