Most social workers in favour of a new ‘power of entry’ to protect adults at risk of abuse or neglect

More than 80 per cent of social care workers are in favour of a new ‘power of entry’ so they can protect adults who they believe are at risk of abuse or neglect by family members or carers.

The College of Social Work (TCSW) carried out a survey which found 84 per cent of adult care social workers are in favour of a new ‘power of entry’.

Ninety-one per cent agreed that applying for and executing a warrant granting power of entry into a private household or private nursing home should only be undertaken by suitably experienced, trained and qualified social workers.

Bernard Walker, chair of TCSW’s Adults Faculty, said: “Social workers have drawn parallels with other areas of social work practice, telling us that adult protection should be similar to child protection, where professionals must be allowed to see the individual alone, and if they are not granted access they have the legal power to ensure the visit takes place.

“There is a safeguarding gap at the moment in the care of vulnerable adults which social workers, backed by powers of entry, could close. But it is a power that would only be used in cases of serious concern.

“It is the view of The College that power of entry should be executed only by an appropriately trained and qualified social worker, acting independently in a situation where in their professional opinion they feel a vulnerable adult may be at risk of abuse or neglect.”

Forty six per cent of those who took part in the survey said if they had power of entry they would have used it up to five times in the last two to three years; eight per cent said they would have used the power more than five times over the same period.

When asked in what circumstances they would like to see the power used, social workers cited vulnerable adults at risk of domestic abuse, trafficking or sexual exploitation, coercion by a family member or carer, or denial of access to their social worker.

Situations involving private nursing homes, where power of entry could also be used, and suspected ‘honour’ based violence were also cited as ones in which the new powers would be beneficial.

TCSW’s survey canvassed the opinion of social workers in drawing up its response to the Department of Health’s consultation on new adult safeguarding powers.