Varied role is dedicated to protecting vulnerable adults
THE OBAN TIMES, together with NHS Highland, is running a series of articles putting the spotlight on people who work in healthcare across our area. Answering the questions this week is the health board’s lead adviser for adult support and protection, Christine Macleod.
Q. What does your job involve?
A. It’s quite a varied role that centres on adult support and protection (ASP). A big part of my job is the advisory role where I am contacted by social workers, team managers and other professionals in relation to more complex cases surrounding ASP. I am also involved in ASP training.
Q. How long have you been in your role and what attracted you to the position?
A. I’ve worked as lead adviser for ASP with NHS Highland since April 2016. I have been a social worker for the best part of 20 years, and I felt I needed a fresh challenge. Prior to this role, I was seconded to work with the police setting up a new pathway for adult concern referrals, and this increased my knowledge of ASP work which really interested me.
Q. We often hear of child protection, but less of adult protection. What does it involve?
A. The Adult Support and Protection (Scotland) Act 2007 is legislation introduced by the Scottish Government to support and protect adults who are more vulnerable to the risk of harm.
Q. Which adults are most at risk of harm?
A. Adult support and protection is about the most vulnerable people in our communities, so that may be people with mental ill-health, learning difficulties or older people, although it’s important to stress that just because people may fall into these categories doesn’t mean they are at risk.
They may be very capable of protecting themselves and have support around them.
However, there are many people who don’t have that support or for various reasons are not able to safeguard or protect themselves.
Q. What type of harm are they at risk from?
A. It can be harm of any form: emotional, physical, sexual, self-neglect or financial. Financial harm is an issue that has appeared quite a lot recently, where people are being targeted through various scams, whether that be online, over the phone or at their doorstep. Furthermore, in some instances relatives and friends can be guilty of this type of harm. However, this can be harder to identify as people are less likely to speak up about it and alienate their families.
Q. Why is adult support and protection such an important issue?
A. As a society, we all have a responsibility to protect vulnerable people, whether they are children or adults, from all forms of harm and neglect.
Q. Which organisations are represented on the adult support and protection committee?
A. The committee is headed by an in- dependent chair who isn’t associated to any organisation, and consists of senior figures from organisations such as Police Scotland, Highland Council, NHS Highland and Advocacy.
Q. What are the most rewarding elements of your role?
A. My role allows me to make a real difference to people’s lives, and I like to hear where the legislation has worked and people are feeling safer and living a more comfortable life. However, we need to get the word out to more people – to let service users, carers, families and professionals know that help and support is available.
Q. How do you switch off from the pressures of your job?
A. I’m married with three children, so I don’t have much free time. My three boys always need dropped off at some sports club, but when I’m not driving around I love to run. I am very lucky that I have a wonderful family and I’m able to switch off from my work.