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November 2022

A takeaway coffee and the feedback loop …

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

This blog is published as part of Safeguarding Adults Week (21-27 November 2022).

The theme this year is Responding to Contemporary Safeguarding Challenges - huge thanks to Ann Craft Trust for organising the week and raising awareness of safeguarding adults through a different topic each day.

NSAB has organised a number of events during the week, read more here how you can help support this and get involved.

We are asked for all sorts of feedback all the time. While driving back from Manchester the other week I thought I would treat myself to a coffee. Pulled into a branch of a well-known coffee chain on the A1. Parked up and stretched the legs and went in to get a coffee. Gave my order, waved the card at the contactless machine, all good.

I then got a message on my phone asking me to rate my experience of the coffee and the member of staff: ‘Out of five, how did I rate the temperature of my coffee?’ It was fine - it was hot and tasted of coffee!’

According to Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, professor of business psychology at University College London:

‘Whether it’s buying a rare vintage watch on eBay, spending a week in a Paris Airbnb, or outsourcing the design of our company website through TaskRabbit, ratings rule our world. These interactions are based on trust or the economy of reputation. The only reason we feel comfortable entering into a commercial or personal relationship with a total stranger is that we can trust his or her reputational score. CQC rating are all important to registered services.’ (Reputation and the rise of the 'rating' society)

While giving feedback on every interaction we have during our day can feel rather tiresome, dismissing all feedback in this way would be missing a great opportunity to help important interactions in our daily life improve. The GP surgery, housing services, our local council services, and safeguarding. 

For a term we all use all the time, what exactly is feedback and why it is so important?

The term ‘feedback’ is used to describe helpful information or criticism about a prior action or behaviour from an individual, communicated to another individual (or group) who can use that information to adjust and improve current and future actions and behaviours. Susan E. DeFranzo gives us five reasons why feedback is important for the giver, the receiver and the wider organisation, including improving motivation, performance and as a tool for continued learning. And from a safeguarding perspective, feedback is a key component needed to help build our system.

I hear a lot about feedback on safeguarding concerns.

It might be from a colleague who has raised a concern with the local authority and the local authority has not updated them (i.e. given them feedback). I talk with local authority safeguarding colleagues, and they say feedback is given and recorded on the system. For both those concerns which are taken onto Section 42 enquiries and those concerns which may be progressed in a different way (remembering that does not mean that the initial contact was necessarily wrong, but that the concern or risk did not meet the criteria for that specific type of enquiry) feedback is a key step in process.

While it the responsibility of the local authority to decide whether or not a concern is progressed using a Section 42 enquiry, it will always involve assessing the information available, including risk, and offering relevant and proportionate support wherever duties under the Care Act or other legislation apply. Again, feedback is a key part of this process.

Feedback to the people who contact the local authority with a safeguarding concern is integral to the safeguarding process and improves the system by helping those who raise concerns to get it right more often.

Used positively, feedback really helps to explain why a concern will have no further action taken, or a s42 enquiry will be started, or taken forward in a different way. Why, because it helps the people / organisations who report their concerns to feel valued and motivated to get it right again next time; it also builds positive multi-agency relationships making our safeguarding adults system stronger, and prevention more effective, by helping them to properly understand why something does or doesn’t need a s42 enquiry.

Recently an Organisation-Wide Learning briefing sent to all adult social care staff looked at the importance of feedback in the safeguarding process.

Monday 21st November is the start of National Safeguarding Adult Awareness week, when all organisations and services across Norfolk and beyond can help raise awareness on safeguarding. Each day of the week has a theme and on Wednesday (23rd) it is Creating Safer Organisational Cultures. A safeguarding system which has a strong feedback loop does just that … helps organisations build safer cultures by giving opportunities to deepen understanding about what safeguarding is and is not.

The following are easy actions we can take to strengthen the feedback on safeguarding concerns:

  • If you work for Adult Social Care, when taking calls on safeguarding concerns please remember to ask for the name and contact number of the person reporting it, to give them feedback
  • If you are raising a concern with the local authority, remember to give the details for the person to be contacted with feedback. This might be yourself or if you are not easily contactable (working shifts or if you will be away from the office for a period of time) the details of a colleague or your manager

Working together we can close the feedback loop and so strengthen how Norfolk does safeguarding. So, the next time you raise a concern for an adult experiencing or at risk of abuse and harm, please remember to mention or ask how feedback will be given.

Thank you.

Walter Lloyd-Smith

NSAB Board Manager

Email: [email protected]

PS The coffee was very nice.