A number of conferences can be held during the process, but one will always be carried out to conclude the process following an investigation. There are no agreed timescales for when a conference should be held, but they must add value to the process and allow the individual to be engaged in the process. As such, conferences should be held as soon as possible after the conclusion of the investigation, and in cases where the investigation is lengthy and complex, then more than one adult protection conference may be required and should be convened with the agreement of the adult at risk.
Each agency invited to attend the conference should provide to the chair, 2 working days in advance a written report, which summarises:
basic information the agency holds about the adult at risk;
up to date chronology of relevant agency involvement (see pointers for practice on preparing chronologies);
involvement in current incident/cause for concern;
frequency of contact with the adult at risk and the nature of the contact;
assessment of current issues/protective and risk factors;
knowledge of adult at risk’s desired outcomes, wishes and feelings, values and beliefs.
All reports should distinguish between what is fact, observation, allegation or opinion. Any professional opinion must have supporting evidence.
Any particularly sensitive or confidential information should be drawn to the attention of the chair prior to the conference.
In order to maintain the focus at conference on analysis and decision-making, practitioners and the adult at risk should have sight of reports prior to the conference. This means that practitioners can present the key points to conference in a report summary.
Reports should be shared with the adult at risk prior to the conference, unless to do so would place them at further risk, i.e. perpetrator may have access to the report, may cause distress to the adult or is not in their best interests.
It is important that the adult at risk is aware of the content of any reports about them prior to conference. This enables them to:
confirm they agree with the content
be prepared for what is going to be shared with other agencies and at conference.
The agenda provides a framework for managing the conference.
The process can be divided into four stages:
Setting the scene:
statement of confidentiality and completion of signing in sheet (contact details to be provided for distribution of record);
introductions and apologies;
details of the adult at risk (name/date of birth/address/GP/family/partner if known);
confirmation of the adult at risk’s capacity in relation to assessing and meeting their care, support and protection needs;
background to the concerns and summary of section 126 process.
Information-sharing from reports received including:
The investigating practitioner agencies involved in the enquiries;
Wishes of adult at risk and any other relevant information obtained;
Practitioners should present the key points to conference in a report summary.
Assessing and making sense of the information to establish any further information required:
outcome of any investigations and the implications for the adult at risk;
assessment of abuse and/or neglect – agree severity and whether ongoing and any evidence to support views;
decide if any existing plan meets the adult at risk’s needs. if not revise or develop a new care and support protection plan;
agree whether legal advice and guidance is required;
establish whether any statutory and/or regulatory action is necessary, such as referral to regulators;
decide which agencies will be involved in the delivery of the plan and whether a contingency plan is required in case the agreed plan is not effective.
agree how outcomes of the care and support protection plan will be measured and timescales for this;
any necessary statutory and/or regulatory action, such as referral to regulators;
A lack of evidence for a criminal prosecution does not necessarily mean that action cannot be taken under civil proceedings (e.g. seeking an injunction) or disciplinary proceedings. The reason for this is that there is a lower test for burden of proof in civil proceedings. Discussions about this may happen at the conference.
Records should detail and evidence the discussion and conclusion of the conference.
The record should be sent to:
The adult at risk where appropriate. If the adult at risk does not have mental capacity to understand the record a decision should be made in their best interests about who to send the record to, or whether the record needs to be sent to anyone else;
All attendees and invitees to the meeting;
All those contributing to the care and support protection plan;
Contract/commissioning teams as appropriate;
Relevant regulatory bodies, as appropriate.
Where records are sent to a carer (whether with permission of the adult at risk or because it has been found to be in their best interests) the conference must agree what information can be shared about the person alleged to have caused harm.
There may be situations where sharing the record of the meeting with the adult at risk may place them at increased risk of abuse or neglect. For example, where an abuser may have access to the record and is likely to become abusive towards the adult at risk if they read the record. In these situations, practitioners should use their professional judgement and make arrangements that take account of those concerns. For example, the record might be shared verbally or in a safe environment.
Where there is information that cannot be shared, with the adult at risk (see above) the section of the record relating to that part of the meeting should be redacted.
Any reports available to the meeting should be recalled by the chair at the end of the meeting, and any exceptions to this must be agreed by the chair.