I am celebrating my recent recently returned to deliver safeguarding training for Kent County Council. I was nervous at the beginning of the two days, recalling that I hadn’t facilitated the course since I worked as Consultant trainer for Kent and Medway Multi Agency Safeguarding Board. But at the end of two days I had a guilty pleasure. I haven’t had so much fun in years!
I delivered a Level 2 training aimed at practitioners who might be responsible for raising adult protection concerns. One of my areas of interest , focus and “fun” was in talking about institutional practice. We have certainly come a long way since Goffman wrote Asylums and described “total institutions”. But I think it is important to remember that whilst we have initiatives that provide a framework and a language for change, it is the day-to-day support and nurture from innovative and courageous practitioners that really makes a difference.
I recently visited three care homes that are embedding person-centred practices deep into the culture of their staff teams.I caused a few raised eye brows in one home when I nipped back to the office to fetch my iphone so that I could photograph the toilets. I was thrilled to see potted plants, scent bottles, magazines, books, tables and make up. I live with my 2 teenage daughters. The bathrooms in that home looked like the bathrooms in mine; inviting, cosy, homely and girlie! Innovation and courage comes in many guises.
But there remain many challenges in modern practice too. Recent social media chat has been alight with comments about the use of covert cameras as part of the inspection process. I have my own views, and whilst at the Bradford Group wrote my favourite fun training programme called “the only way is Ethics”. I have for many years been interested in the application (or not) of human rights and social justice principles in social care, and it would be fair to say that if you looked in my soul it would have “safeguarding” stamped all over it. But I fear that the sanction of routine covert filming can only foster suspicion between providers and commissioners or inspectors. All this at a time when we should be working together to create relationships based on reciprocity and trust. After all, isn’t that what providers are supposed to be delivering? How centred is the system if we are actively championing a covert culture? I believe that any concerns should be investigated. But the way to minimise harm is to make every setting an integral part of community, by asking honest and at times difficult questions and, importantly, by the statutory services using the powers that they already have in a manner that is both timely and proportionate. Let’s not risk people’s wellbeing by engaging in games of smoke and mirrors.