Hub helps keep our vulnerable adults safe
- Credit: Archant Norfolk
During his working day Jerry Crehan takes calls from people worried about assaults, dementia, domestic violence and theft.
If the callers' concerns need more investigation, Mr Crehan stands up from his desk and walks a few yards to his colleagues working on behalf of the police, social services or health organisations.
Within a couple of hours an action plan is devised to help the caller with their problem.
Mr Crehan is part of a 70-strong team working in Norfolk's Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (Mash) which aims to safeguard vulnerable adults in the county.
The term 'vulnerable' encompasses a broad spectrum of adults, such as residents at risk of phyiscal abuse, fraud, violence or people who do not have 'capacity' to make basic life -decisions on their own.
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Mash is regulated by the Norfolk Adult Safeguarding Board which is made up of a variety of agencies including police, social services, the city and county councils, health bodies, charities and Trading Standards.
Detective Chief Inspector Pete Hornby, safeguarding lead for Norfolk Police, said: 'In the past there was always an issue about information not being shared across the agencies.
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'We might have 90pc of the information on a case and social services might have the remaining 10pc we needed to start a prosecution.'
He said Norfolk's Mash is particularly well developed with referrals quickly distributed to the appropriate agency.
Other counties in England don't have an organisation like Mash, despite legislation on adult safeguarding being introduced in the 2015 Care Act which came into effect in April.
Although by no means the only age group requiring safeguarding, the elderly population of Norfolk makes up many of the referrals, and that means Mash is only going to get busier in the next few years as the county's residents grow older.
Since its inception in 2010, Mash has handled a growing number of 'referrals' (people who need to be safeguarded).
In its first year, Mash handled 1,364 referrals but that figure rose to 2,945 in 2014/15. In 2015 referrals have increased from 271 in January to 474 in July.
'We're getting a lot more general calls through,' said Toni Scattergood, adult safeguarding team manager.
According to Ms Scattergood self-neglect is one issue which sparks more referrals, leaving the agencies with the tricky decision of how to support a person, for example, who may be at risk of developing health conditions due to their poor hygiene or standard of living. The safeguarders must strike a balance between a person's capacity to make decisions and intervening for the person's own protection.
If you feel vulnerable or are worried about someone who may be vulnerable call the 24/7 Mash hotline on 0344 800 8020 or visit www.norfolk.gov.uk/speakup
Have you got a health story? Email firstname.lastname@example.org