The Kingston Community Reference Group (CRG) at Healthwatch Kingston (HWK) was developed to enable HWK to collect information directly from service users. The group has focused on the lived experience of safeguarding and whether recipients felt the Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP) objectives had been achieved in their cases. Collating and analysing this information remains a key priority to HWK.
We are continuing to develop the CRG and are currently exploring more ways for a service users to feedback their experiences of the local safeguarding process. This development would not be wholly reliant on service user attendance at meetings, but could include telephone contact and online reporting, leading to information processing and thematic reporting on how far desired MSP outcomes had been met. Service users would also be offered the opportunity to meet at the CRG if they wished.
In addition the CRG has heard about a series of incidents relating to limited direct communications with homeless persons where there are safeguarding concerns, and who are not always responsive to agency approaches. This has the potential to leave them at some risk. This issue also links with another Healthwatch Kingston area of interest relating to hospital discharge arrangements for homeless people who may in themselves be vulnerable. A number of measures have recently been agreed between Kingston Hospital, RBK Housing Options and local housing support providers to address the risks to health of unsafe discharge.
The CRG has also learnt about cases where there was reported concern about the quality of care that had been provided that led to safeguarding concerns being reported in the first place. Regular meetings with the Adult Safeguarding Manager are therefore a key element of the feedback loop so that any necessary remedial action can be taken promptly.
The responsibility of the CRG is assigned to Grahame Snelling, former Healthwatch Kingston Chair and Board member with lead responsibility for safeguarding, supported by HWK staff.
The CRG format is a safe and confidential space in which attendees can share their stories of being a victim of abuse, a carer or even a perpetrator, and experiences of safeguarding interventions. The group is facilitated to anonymously gather intelligence is fed back anonymously to the Kingston Adults Safeguarding Board (SAB), to support the improvements in safeguarding policy and practice.
Making Safeguarding Personal
It was important to determine whether people got the outcome they wished for (MSP). Discussions have taken place with local adult safeguarding professionals to identify the best way to promote the availability of the CRG. Discussions continues to explore how MSP is further imbedded in Kingston.
Confidentiality and Governance
A confidential set of minutes are kept for participants and an anonymised summary reflecting key issues and themes is supplied both to the HWK Board and the KSAB.
The CRG has proved successful in facilitating listening to the stories of service users, translating these into evidence to shape proposals for the KSAB to influencing policy and improve practices.
There is now opportunity for CRG and associated work to become a sustainable adjunct to the KSAB. HWK continues to work with safeguarding professionals to develop a pilot that will focus on one element of local safeguarding provision, with a view to further supporting the MSP objectives.
The above work is being shared with safeguarding professionals at the London Safeguarding Adults Board Conference 2020, which aims to improve engagement with people with lived experience by putting the person’s voice at the centre of the conference and throughout safeguarding provision.