This is a short podcast on behalf of the West Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board. I am a young person and am going to talk about the new protocol for safeguarding young people aged 17 ½ to 25 years. This is sometimes also called Transitional Safeguarding.
The lead up to turning 18 and the years soon after can be a difficult time for young people, especially if we have care and support needs. Having care and support needs means that we need support to manage our lives and be independent. For some, this may mean we have a disability, long-term illness or a mental health condition. It is a time when safeguarding support and services may change for us and this can be worrying for us and our families and carers.
Safeguarding young people means supporting us to protect ourselves if we are at risk of, or are experiencing, abuse and/or neglect. Safeguarding young people was one of West Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board’s priorities in 2020/21. Because of this work, the West Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board and the West Sussex Safeguarding Children’s Partnership have jointly launched, in July 2021, a protocol for Safeguarding Young People. The protocol sets out the support needed for young people aged 17½ years to 25 years, who are experiencing, or at risk of abuse or neglect, particularly where the abuse or risk of abuse and neglect is likely to continue after turning 18 years old.
The protocol covers several areas. I am going to go focus on a few of the key points, including: making safeguarding personal, mental capacity, and the process for both safeguarding concerns and Safeguarding Adult Reviews. The full protocol is available on the Safeguarding Adults Board website and provides further important information, such as, the definitions of abuse and neglect, information on Domestic Abuse, Sexual and Criminal Exploitation, and Structural inequalities. It also includes arrangements for out of area safeguarding and information on young people who pose a risk to others. The protocol recognises that there are safeguarding risks that may be more common for young people such as, County Lines and cuckooing; these risks can be greater due to young people possibly finding it harder to recognise these sophisticated methods of exploitation.
Firstly, I would like to share with you a little about making safeguarding personal. The protocol asks that professionals working with the young person support them to make their own decisions, giving them choice and control over their lives in a way that may not have been possible to them as a younger child. It also covers the importance of a young person agreeing to a safeguarding concern being raised, unless they lack capacity or, asking for their agreement puts them or others at further risk of harm.
For a young person over the age of 16 the Mental Capacity Act applies. This means young people aged 16 and over can consent to, for example, medical treatment, care and support. If there are concerns around capacity to agree to, or make specific decisions, then a Mental Capacity assessment should be completed for each specific decision.
Secondly, I would like to tell you about the safeguarding process. The protocol explains that if someone has concerns that a young person is experiencing or at risk of harm or abuse, the best way to report it, is to complete an online Safeguarding Referral Form. The reported concern will then be looked at against safeguarding criteria and how best to proceed. If you have no access to the internet, it is still vital that you report your concerns, and this can be done by calling 01403 64 21 21. Remember, if in doubt, please check it out and know that there is flexibility with criteria and a commitment to find solutions wherever possible.
If someone is 17 ½ years or over, it may be that Adults Social Care need to be involved in the safeguarding process being led on by West Sussex County Council’s Children’s or Leaving Care services. This would be particularly important if the safeguarding concern is likely to continue after the young person turns 18.
Once it’s determined that safeguarding is needed, it will be decided if it is Children’s or Adults Services who are most suitable to take forward. Any information about the concerns will be shared with the team supporting the young person and, there is an Information Sharing Protocol in place to support this. If the young person is going to be supported by Adults Services, the start date for the Adult Safeguarding process will be clearly shared with those involved. Where a safeguarding plan is needed after the young person turns 18, this will be agreed no later than one month before their 18th Birthday, with the involvement of the young person and those working with them.
Thirdly, I would like to tell you about the process for Safeguarding Adults Reviews. These are known as SARs. If a young person, 18 years or over, dies and abuse and/or neglect is suspected, the Safeguarding Adults Boards’ Adults Death protocol should be considered first. If this protocol is followed, the multi-agency meeting will consider whether there is a need to refer for a SAR. If a referral is made for a SAR from any other route and, the young person is 18 or 19 years old and has been known to Children’s Services recently and not Adult Services, then Children’s Services will consider the work completed with the young person and any areas where there is a need for learning. A referral for a young person who has been involved with Children's’ Services will be considered by the West Sussex Safeguarding Adults Board with the referrer and senior member of staff from Children’s Services. A decision will be reached on whether the SAR criteria has been met and if so, which Board will lead on the Review.
Finally, just to mention again as it’s so important, we get that safeguarding us young people has particular challenges as we transition to adulthood and, for some of us, to Adult Services. To get it right for us, to reduce and/or stop abuse and neglect, please always keep us at the heart of what you do by making sure you understand and hear our views and wishes. Equally important is working really well together across the multi-agency partnership including sharing information to keep us safe. And, please remember, if in doubt, always, always check it out, it could mean the difference to us being/continuing to being harmed.
So, to close, please read the new Protocol and the learning briefing to make sure your understanding and practice is up to date. These documents also, have helpful links to other information and resources. By doing this, you can improve the experience and outcomes for young people in West Sussex so that they can live free from abuse and neglect.
On the Board’s website, you’ll also find links to all safeguarding policies and procedures, information for professionals, SARs and, other podcasts. Please do have a look, make a difference to us young people and, thank you very much for listening to this podcast.