Adult protection significant case reviews: interim framework

Framework to support a consistent approach to conducting adult protection significant case reviews and improve the dissemination and application of learning both locally and nationally. This framework is for all partners.


Iona Colvin, Chief Social Work Advisor to the Scottish Government

The implementation of the Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 placed a duty upon Local Authorities to establish Adult Protection Committees. The Guidance for Adult Protection Committees states that, 'joint consideration of individual cases may help Adult Protection Committee members to develop greater joint understanding of service user concerns and professional practice.' It then further encourages Adult Protection Committees, 'to evaluate and learn from critical incidents'.

The Public Bodies Act 2014 created Integrated Joint Boards for health and social care and defined the vision for the reform of Scotland's health and care services with an aspiration to be 'seamless from the point of view of those who use them'. Significant Case Reviews are important, firstly, for those individuals and families who have been directly affected by a critical incident, and secondly, to ensure that we learn across the adult protection system. The learning from Significant Case Reviews needs to inform the way in which agencies work together to deliver joined up safeguarding and support and care to those who need it.

Many areas have now carried out Significant Case Reviews. They have proven to be a key tool in satisfying the Committees' statutory duties around reviewing procedures, cooperation, quality assurance of practice and improving skills and knowledge.

It is anticipated that this new national framework will provide a baseline for consistency in carrying out Significant Case Reviews. In turn, this will provide the opportunity in future to analyse and share the learning across Scotland to further assist Adult Protection Committees. To support consistency further, consultation on changes to the relevant sections in the current guidance for Committees on learning from significant incidents will be required.

This framework is not the last word in how Significant Case Reviews should be completed but provides a framework that will offer a level of consistency as we move forward in the development of this complex and important area of work. Drawing the learning from these reviews is important as we strive to embed that learning in procedures and practice. This will support Adult Protection Committees in their ongoing efforts to enhance the support and protection we offer to adults at risk of harm.

We also expect each individual agency and Health and Social Care Partnership to ensure this learning is directed through their clinical and care governance or quality assurance and standards arrangements.

Sincere thanks are due to all those who contributed to the development of this interim framework. Their expertise and insight was crucial to its development, and is an example of partnership working in practice.

The Scottish Government's Programme for Government for 2019-20 includes a commitment to improve the support and protection given to adults at risk of harm, through the delivery of a three year Improvement Plan. The publication of this framework is one of the first actions to be delivered as part of these improvements, and there are more to come. We need to keep working together to make Scotland a safe and supportive place for adults at risk of harm to live.

Iona Colvin
Chief Social Work Advisor to the Scottish Government



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