At no time must professional dissent detract from ensuring that the adult is safeguarded. The adult’s welfare and safety must remain paramount throughout.
2. Common Causes of Professional Disagreements
Disagreements over the handling of concerns reported to adult social care typically occur when:
- the referral is not considered to meet eligibility criteria for assessment by adult social care;
- adult social care conclude that further information should be sought by the referrer before the referral is progressed;
- there is disagreement as to whether adult safeguarding procedures should be invoked;
- there are different interpretations on the need for single or joint agency response;
- there is disagreement regarding the closure of a safeguarding adult’s enquiry prior to conference stage;
- there is disagreement regarding the closure of a safeguarding adult’s enquiry at review stage.
3. Process for Resolution
If the professionals are unable to resolve differences through discussion and / or meeting within a time scale which is acceptable to both of them, their disagreement must be addressed by more experienced or more senior staff.
With respect to most day to day issues, this will require an adult social care team manager or assistant team manager liaising with their equivalent in the relevant agency.
If agreement cannot be reached following discussions between the above ‘first line’ managers (who should normally seek advice from their line manager or designated / named / lead officer) the issue must be referred without delay through the line management of the respective agency structure.
Alternatively, and more commonly in health services, input may be sought directly from the designated or named professional for safeguarding / safeguarding adults in preference to the use of line management.
At this point a meeting should be called to discuss the situation involving all parties. Records of discussions must be maintained by all the agencies involved. The outcome of discussions and agreed actions should also be recorded.
If professional disagreements remain unresolved, the matter must be referred to the Safeguarding Adult Board (SAB) representative for each agency involved.
In the unlikely event that the issue is not resolved by the steps described above or significant policy issues are raised, it should be referred to the SAB office for discussion with the SAB Independent Chair who may act as a mediator to facilitate resolution to the disagreement in collaboration with other appropriate professionals.