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Adults referred to as ‘vulnerable’ can cover a very broad spectrum of concerns and situations – from people living with dementia, mental illness or learning disabilities through to those who have suffered some form of trauma, such as a stroke or head injury, or simply a temporary episode which impairs a person’s ability to make a clear and rational decision.

The East Midlands Adult Safeguarding Board aims to protect vulnerable adults and support the health and social care professionals working with them. To help, it has developed four new tools, designed to be used at all levels across services who have a responsibility for promoting and ensuring the protection of adults who may be at risk.

From research there seemed a vast disparity in levels of understanding of the Mental Capacity Act, its associated Code of Practice and the Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards (DoLS) across those health and social care professionals that come into contact with vulnerable people. To help address this, two versions of a Mental Capacity Act e-learning tool have been devised; one for primary care workers, and the other for social care, which also provides flexibility and ownership for the end user. The e-learning programmes have proved to be the most effective way of learning for anyone new to the legislation or as a reminder and refresher tool.

In Leicestershire further training has been developed in the form of an innovative ‘Who Decides’ DVD and training pack is a story drama presenting real-life issues around the application of the MCA and DoLS legislation, that can be used in training sessions to determine appropriate actions and responses. The cast includes a mix of professional actors, professional consultants and DoLS best interest assessors, who all worked closely together for several months as an acting company, to bring life and truth to the characters in the story. The DVD was sponsored by Leicestershire County Council, Corporate Learning and Development Service, and the NHS Trusts in Leicestershire and Leicester City and the Leicestershire Social Care Development Group.

To ensure this theoretical learning can be reinforced at the frontline of health and social care, the NHS East Midlands has produced ‘Prompt Cards’ that clinicians and practitioners can easily refer to in practice. The need for a simple-to-use and accessible tool to help adult safeguarding was identified following the pilot use of the Safeguarding Self-assessment and Assurance Framework (SAAF) in 2010. This initiative was developed by a small working group of safeguarding health leads from across the region, in consultation with the East Midlands Adult Safeguarding Network. The colour coded cards ensure that the relevant information can be accessed quickly to support good practice and help the user identify vulnerable individuals.

Finally, the ‘Valuing People Team’ in Leicestershire has developing a number of new resources to help keep people in the community safe, particularly people who may have a learning disability or a learning difficulty. These include:

1. A set of five ‘Cyber Safety Leaflets’, which give important information for people with learning disabilities who are using computers on a daily basis. As this group are more likely to be victims of cyber crime, the leaflets are easy to read and promote key safety messages about using computers and mobile phones.

2. The’ Keep Safe Places scheme’ is due to be launched later in 2012, offering somewhere a vulnerable person can go when they feel upset, scared or distressed. A keep safe place is somewhere like a shop or community venue, which is identifiable by a keep safe sticker as a safe haven.

3. Finally’ keep safe cards’, originally used for people with learning disabilities have now been extended for use by to older people. The keep safe card can be kept in a purse, wallet or pocket and provides personal information which will be of help in an emergency.

About EMASB:
The East Midlands Adult Safeguarding Board works to protect vulnerable adults and support the health and social care professionals working with them.

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