Adult Support and Protection National Strategic Forum minutes: March 2021

Minutes of the meeting of the Adult Support and Protection (ASP) National Strategic Forum, held on 2 March 2021.

Attendees and apologies


  • Clare Haughey (chair), Minister for Mental Health
  • Vikki Milne,  Scottish Government
  • Murray Meikle, Scottish Government
  • Heather Gibson, Scottish Government
  • Paul Comley, Stirling University/ASP National Practice Co-ordinator
  • John Paterson, SASPICA National Convenors Group
  • Lisa Powell, COSLA
  • John Urquart , COSLA
  • Brenda Walker, Social Work Scotland ASP Leads Network
  • Moira Nicholson, SIAA
  • Austen Smyth, Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland
  • Steve Wright, North Ayrshire HSCP
  • Jane Byrne, HIS
  • Mike Harkin, Care Inspectorate
  • Eleanor McCallum, HSC Scotland
  • Grace Gilling, NHS ASP Network
  • Karen Hedge, Scottish Care
  • Julie Paterson, Mental Welfare Commission
  • Julie Lusk, Chief Social Work Officers Group
  • Robert Saunders, IRISS
  • Alex Davidson, Five Nations Conference Series



  • Fiona Brown, Office of the Public Guardian
  • Kate Hall (co-chair), Scottish Government
  • Suzi Moran, Police Scotland
  • Cathie Cowan, NHS Chief Executives
  • Fidelma Eggo, Care Inspectorate
  • David Thomson, National Mental Health Nurse Leads Group
  • Maureen Berry, Health Improvement Scotland

Items and actions

1. Chair’s welcome to the Forum (Clare Haughey)

Clare Haughey welcomed everyone to the Forum.

2. Apologies

Apologies noted.

3. Previous minutes and matters arising

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 2 September 2020 were agreed as an accurate record.

Vikki Milne summarised the actions from the previous meeting in 3 groups:

1) Following the presentation from the Forensic Mental Health Review

  • ASP policy followed up with Review Secretariat the request to provide information and invitation for Ms McKelvie to meet with the Review
  • ASP Team sent the Review contact details to Cathie Cowan to invite Derek Barron to address NHS Chief Execs.
  • presentation slides (PDF) were sent to Forum members along with minute of meeting
  • SWS work on older adults report was shared with the Review team

2) Following the presentation on Experiences and lessons emerging from COVID-19

  • the ASP National Coordinator issued a survey on impact of the pandemic in adult support and protection to ‘capture’ pandemic experiences including good practice.
  • findings presented in Sept have been shared with APC and ASP leads.
  • findings from follow-up survey will inform actions being taken forward as part of the ASP priorities.

3) Following the update on plans for the refresh of the Code of Practice and Guidance for APCs

  • letter on refresh was sent to all Forum members
  • representatives from NHS CE, IJB COs and rep CSWO were invited as members of the reference group to oversee the refresh.

4. Refresh of ASP Code of Practice update – John Paterson

John Paterson spoke to the paper he had provided to the forum ahead of the meeting. Key points:

  • Reference Group established to discuss revisions required
  • Documents currently being considered by SG and will go out for consultation in due course
  • Comments on the content of the revision were sought from ASP convenors and members of the NSF, plus written engagement invited from a wider spread of organisations including Trading Standards, Scottish Fire & Rescue etc.
  • Autumn workshops had taken place to debate points of consensus on required changes in more detail. These workshops consisted of interested professionals from governance; practitioners and two groups of broader composition.
  • Highlighted concern around information sharing/GDPR/Data protection issues
  • Vocabulary and language used in current version of the CoP was deemed outdated and that there is a need for greater clarity e.g. coverage of the impact of trauma and lived experience vs lifestyle choices etc.
  • Issues around what constitutes enquiry/inquiries/investigation, referrals, and in particular what can be interpreted as “visits” which, in the current climate, do not necessarily mean face-to-face but instead are virtual in nature.
  • Attention brought to new chapter around assessing and managing risk of harm.
  • APC guidance offers clarity around giving advice and support with expanded examples of where this is appropriate; governance issues, consistency with child protection language, and the impact on ASP of LSIs and Case Reviews.

The Minister invited questions or discussion opportunity but no-one took this up.

Actions:  The draft refresh has been submitted to Scottish Government and is being considered at present. It will be out for external consultation in due course.

5. Written Updates – Comments and Questions

The Minister asked for comments on the written updates from the Improvement Plan, Convenors, Police Scotland and National Coordinator.  No comments were offered.

6. Pandemic Impact Survey – Paul Comely

Paul Comely spoke to a PowerPoint presentation on the Pandemic Impact Survey.

Key points:

  • huge rise in virtual contact
  • virtual world has also become massive training tool
  • access issues to technology for service users – innovative responses found to this
  • different platforms used in different areas initially caused problems but Paul felt much of this has been ironed out over time.
  • potential difficulty of access to national resources or training

Discussion – points raised as follows:

  • Austen Smyth asked Paul about what he viewed as a priority group – those “out of region” in institutional placements. What has happened to them? He referred to the  "Coming Home" report and indicated that this should be given greater emphasis.
  • Paul responded that this issue did not specifically come up in the report but the broader theme of “hidden harm” does indeed need highlighted.
  • Alex Davidson complimented Paul’s excellent work and agreed that residential institutions continued to have issues – work to be done around protecting people in closed environments. He also highlighted the need for training and staff support/development and that the use of technology has promoted this. Alex also shared the positive impact the virtual platform has had on the Chief Officer groups, allowing greater and more frequent discussion and collaboration. Finally he raised the topic of resilience and the need for “joined up” working, stating “think family and community, not silos”, giving examples of poverty and unemployment, as a result of the pandemic, having negative impact on wellbeing and families.
  • Paul commented that it was hard to disagree with any of these points and that they reflected the need for developing an “enabling culture”.
  • Karen Hedge agreed with the points around Care Homes and offered to be involved with future work on this.

Action points

  • Paul to meet with SG policy team to establish key workstreams of interest and feed back to the group.

7.  Bi-Annual Report  - IRISS – Robert Sanders

Robert Sanders spoke to a Powerpoint presentation on Bi-ennial reporting.

Key points:

  • summarising these reports was very challenging as there is a large amount of information in 1200 pages. Normally straightforward thematic analysis but in this case he was required to rethink comparison and analysis strands in lieu of standardisation in reports.
  • lots of ASP activity taking place – this was the focus of the summary and interconnections – could be a concern or seen as success of “joined up” working.
  • Police Scotland largest referring agency. Most common individual referred was female/white/Older, with infirmity as most common characteristic.
  • highlighted mental health/substance misuse causes also
  • most harm took place in home setting – either own home or residential setting. In terms of harms, financial comes up most often with psychological and physical next. 20% rise in referrals and significant growth in investigations but 70% of LAs below national average so location specific.
  • improvement work significant – focus on multi agency and collaborative work; new and developing practice. Learning and development – needs – who/what/how?
  • service user engagement features extensively – impact of lived experience.
  • direct work with Advocacy/ community engagement highlighted as needs – must be timely, proportionate and in person centred manner
  • Covid-19 impact on services and delays
  • data – use in planning, resourcing and improvement but issues in consistency
  • themes looking ahead: fallout from Covid; service-user feedback/engagement; training and Learning & Development, and evaluation and improvement.

Questions and discussion

  • Paul Comely asked if RS had any information from the data regarding investigative interviewing – Police Scotland. RS replied that whilst a couple of LAs had noted an interest it that are or were looking at training in this, he did not have an answer directly and would email PC having looked into it.
  • John Urquart asked if slides could be shared to members. RS responded he would check with slide author and confirm with SG.
  • Vikki Milne noted that the data used was 2018/19 and that data from 19/20 is also included as part of the two year review.  Also noted SG intend to make 2019/20 data more widely available on the SG website in due course.

Action points

  • Robert Sanders to confirm to PC re investigative interviewing
  • Robert Sanders to confirm with SG whether slides to be shared

8. Five Nations Conference Series – Alex Davidson

Alex Davidson spoke to a PowerPoint presentation about the Five Nations Conference Series.

  • Alex stated that the series had grown from an idea shared with colleagues who agreed that there was a need to learn from each other and have a joined up agenda for adult support and protection. Connections and networks grew across the UK (hence the title) and the ROI and there was a clear appetite to debate and discuss practice and challenges. Originally intended as a 2 day conference, this was adapted to be a series of short virtual events.
  • a planning group meets monthly as a forum to discuss issues raised and content of future events. This group has a multi-disciplinary make up and again shares ideas and documents of interest.
  • shared agenda of reform, renewal of policy. Shared Landscape, Human Rights Act etc. Shared challenges: Risk, Capacity, structures, staffing, governance, research and policy
  • the recent first event in the series saw upwards of 500 attendees and received very positive feedback. Attendees included ASPC and Safeguarding Chairs, Lead Officers, policy makers, senior managers, practitioners, researchers, academia, Legal, DWP, Office of Public Guardian’s Scotland and England, practitioners in health, social work, Police, professional associations etc.
  • future draft programme is under constant review and will be flexible to incorporate evidence and reports arising. Events to be held monthly on MS Teams and culminate in  - hopefully – a face to face event late 2021.


  • Alex invited members of the NSF to join events in the series.

No questions were asked.

9. Reviews and context: Adult Support and Protection Priorities Update – Vikki Milne

Five national priorities were agreed at the Forum meeting in March 2020 and will focus the actions of the Forum over the next two years:

Since the previous National Strategic Forum in Sept 2020

1) Partnership working - Good connection into Health and Social Care integration.

  • ASP continues to work with Child Protection to develop induction resource for Chief Officer Groups.

2) Getting Basics right – ASP Multi-Agency Inspection Programme

  • Inspection Partners have been working with Health and Social Care Partnerships to develop and agree a digital by default methodology for inspections that ensures their robustness while reducing the impact on Partnerships – this means, for example, a different approach to file reading, IT support and physical distancing. Following further engagement in Dec the restart was placed on hold in Jan.
  • due to the critical nature of quality assuring that adults at risk of a harm in Scotland are safe and protected, the resumption of the inspection is a matter that will be continuously reviewed, and will be undertaken at the earliest appropriate time.  

3) Enable consistency in how ASP is applied in practice: enabling consistency across Scotland in a way in which links to local processes.

  • we have been working with organisation IRISS aims to build the capacity and capability of the Scottish social services workforce, to access and make use of knowledge and evidence-informed practice, for service improvement
  • as noted in the meeting today IRISS are taking forward the analysis and summary of key themes arising from the APC biennial reports.
  • this is one of a sweet of projects being undertaken by IRISS to support the ASP Improvement Plan. This includes;
  • analysis and summary report of the ASP Annual Data Return 2019/20 – which we expect to publish alongside the summary of the biennial reports.
  • review of the ASP National Data Set – a phased project over the next two years to review and develop a national minimum data set for ASP. Phase 1 will be conducted over the next year and consist of a mapping phase and then developing and testing with three pilot areas.
  • development of ASP practice resources to build skills and expertise of practitioners across public sector to recognise and respond where adults may be at risk of harm; Large Scale Investigation, Case Conferences
  • provide on-gong maintenance of the ASP website

4) Refresh of the Code of Practice and APC Guidance

  • the lead reviewer has submitted the draft changes to Scottish Government. SG is currently considering the draft changes with a view to undertaking a formal consultation.

5) A national Adult Protection/Prevention Public Information strategy - raising awareness through the creation of a professional and public awareness group which could inform and coordinate local activity and inform national activity.

  • Terms of Reference currently being developed.
  • SG issued a tweet series to support National ASP Awareness Day 20 February.

9. Summary and close

The Minister thanked all contributors and highlighted the very useful discussion around current adult support and protection issues.

She thanked everyone for the work they have done to support and protect adults at risk of harm, in particular the hard work and commitment demonstrated in response to the pandemic.

She said that issues or actions arising from the discussion will be captured in the note of the meeting.  She said that the next meeting of the Forum will take place in September 2021, with a calendar request to be issued in due course.

The Minister then brought the meeting to a close. 

The date for the next National Strategic Forum will be 10am -12pm, Tuesday 7 September 2021.

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