Making Internal Enquiries

Scope of this chapter

Enquiry: An enquiry is any action taken or instigated by the local authority in response to a concern about abuse or neglect. This includes actions that investigate what has happened, actions that reduce the risk of future harm occurring and actions that help the affected person to get justice.   

Internal enquiries: If the concern relates to abuse or neglect perpetrated by either a member of staff or by the service, the Safeguarding Adults Manager (SAM) can ask the registered person to undertake enquiry actions. These are called internal enquiries.

This chapter is for the registered person and anyone else that may be asked to undertake internal enquiries. It explains the circumstances when the service may be asked to undertake internal enquiries, what kind of enquiries they may be and how to undertake them effectively.

Relevant Regulations

Related Chapters and Guidance

Each local authority is likely to have a different policy about when it will and will not ask the service to carry out internal enquiries.

In all cases, the Safeguarding Adults Manager (SAM) will not ask the service to carry out internal enquiries if any of the following applies:

  1. There is known to be a serious conflict of interest;
  2. There is a history of similar concerns;
  3. Previous internal enquiries have been inadequate;
  4. The police are investigating.

Decisions about whether internal enquiries should be carried out, and what those enquiries should be, will be made as part of a safeguarding discussion or meeting.

Note: The service should never carry out internal enquiries without having been instructed to do so.

The following are some examples of internal enquiry actions:

  • A conversation with a person that has experienced harm;
  • A conversation with anyone deemed to be a witness to what may have happened;
  • A conversation with the person alleged to have caused harm;
  • An examination of records, including case notes, individual care or support plans, ABC charts etc.;
  • Arranging for a review of equipment.

All enquiries should be carried out in line with the instructions and timescale given by the local authority Safeguarding Adults Manager (SAM).

If it is not clear what enquiry actions are needed, or what conversations need to be had with different individuals, ask.

The following should be considered to ensure that the person has the support they need before, during and after the conversation:

  • Where is the best place to have a conversation?
  • How long should it aim to last?
  • When should it take place?
  • Will the person need a break?
  • What preparation needs to be undertaken with them?
  • Who is the best individual to have a conversation with them?
  • Does the person want anyone else to be with them?

Note: If an independent advocate has been appointed (or an appropriate other person identified) they must be present to ensure the person is effectively supported and represented.

If the conversation causes the person to become distressed, stop and report back to the SAM. There may be an alternative way to gather the information needed.

Where a conversation does take place, the individual should be provided with only enough information to enable them to understand what it is they are alleged to have done (or may do) and to allow their view to be heard and considered.

The tone of the conversation should not be accusatory in nature, but fact finding.

If the person alleged to have caused harm is another person with care and support needs, the same considerations should be given to their wellbeing as would be given to the person that experienced the abuse:

  • Where is the best place to have a conversation?
  • How long should it aim to last?
  • When should it take place?
  • Will the person need a break?
  • What preparation needs to be undertaken with them?
  • Who is the best individual to have a conversation with them?
  • Does the person want anyone else to be with them?

Note: If an independent advocate has been appointed (or an appropriate other person identified) they must be present to ensure the person is effectively supported and represented.

Records should be reviewed as per instructions. Any gaps in information, poor recording or practices etc. should be noted.

Note: NEVER add missing information to a record or create a record if you cannot find it. This is unlawful. Covering up errors is a potential sign of a closed culture and will not help anyone. The enquiry is not seeking to place blame, but to understand what has happened and the actions that are necessary to prevent it happening again.

Appropriate and proportionate records must be made of all enquiries carried out and the information that has been gathered.

Information must be shared with the Safeguarding Adults Manager within agreed timescales and in the manner requested. This could be via secure email or could be in person as part of a safeguarding meeting.

See: Confidentiality and Information Sharing

The SAM will use the enquiry evidence to consider what support and actions can be provided to reduce the risk of future incidents of harm.

For example:

  • Training for staff;
  • Behaviour management;
  • Reassessment of needs;
  • Changes to routines;
  • Changes to staffing ratios or patterns.

Last Updated: September 12, 2022

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