Skip navigation

The legal basis for safeguarding in mental health services


Navin Suppiah Mental Health and Safeguarding Trainer & Solicitor at Scott-Moncrieff’s spoke at today’s Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults in Mental Health conference on:

• the legal basis for safeguarding vulnerable adults with mental health problems
• a legal update for safeguarding leads: implication of the Care Act 2014
• capacity issues and best interests assessments
• safeguarding vulnerable adults from restrictive practices
• ensuring the legal use of control and restraint
• documentation and report writing

Abstract of Navin’s presentation 

The aim of the presentation is to provide a succinct legal briefing on some of the live issues in modern day Safeguarding.  We hope that by answering at least some of the questions below, delegates will walk away with a better idea as to the imminent legal changes to Safeguarding processes. 

The Care Act 2014 is here!  Safeguarding is no longer just policy based but enshrined in statute.  The definitions of ‘vulnerable adult’ and ‘significant harm’ set out in ‘No Secrets’ have been removed and we will set out how s42 Care Act 2014 widens the scope for whom Safeguarding applies, with direct implications for those suffering from mental health problems.  A significant number of those with mental health problems who are in need of care also self- neglect and so we will briefly look at how Safeguarding practices will now apply to this group.

Safeguarding leads will be made aware of the core principles that the Care Act will bring including the statutory power to delegate some but not all of the Local Authority’s safeguarding duties. How will this impact the care of adults with mental health problems?  How will safeguarding investigations (now proactive as well as reactive) take place and more importantly, how will the safeguarding responsibility be shared?  ‘Wellbeing’ is now a legal principle, how will this effect a safeguarding plan for those with mental health problems?  Safeguarding Adult Boards are now on a statutory footing, what powers do they now have?  

A brief update to capacity issues and best interests’ assessments will be provided with highlights of recent case law including the UF case. The Courts are leading the way on balancing asserted positive risk taking against the facts.

Restrictive Practices - The implementation of any practice or practices that restrict an individual’s movement, liberty and / or freedom to act independently without coercion or consequence.  Post Winterbourne how should adults be safeguarded from restrictive practices?  What constitutes unlawful restriction? We will aim to briefly set out what is considered best practice and also touch on the very live issue of Whistleblowing.

A 2013 investigation by Mind highlighted the huge variations in the use of physical restraint across England. In a single year, one NHS Trust reported 38 incidents while another reported over 3,000 incidents.  Is this evidence of endemic organisational abuse?  What are the forms of control and restraint?  When is it appropriate to use and when is it not?  What are the civil and criminal repercussions of illegal control and restraint?

Lastly we shall look at the professional and legal duty to keep correct safeguarding documentation.  Practitioners, advocates and those that have been delegated investigative powers will be required to produce reports.  What are the legal pitfalls of poor report writing and record keeping?

Navin's full presentation is available for download at the end of this page.

Navin Suppiah is a solicitor and trainer who has been recognised as a specialist member of the Law Society Mental Health Accreditation Scheme since 2003. 

As a freelance solicitor, Navin has worked with numerous human rights legal practices in London, including Scott-Moncrieff and Associates.  Generally he advises and represents mental health patients who find their lives affected by the Mental Health Act and the Mental Capacity Act. He has a varied client base of forensic and civil patients who are detained across the spectrum of mental health services including old age psychiatry, acute admissions, secure forensics, rehabilitation units, learning difficulties and the national deaf services.  Needless to say all of his clients are vulnerable adults who require care and management by both health and social care services.   

Navin strongly believes that good legal literacy amongst all health and social care providers and practitioners will help to promote the highest provision of care.  As such he also advises hospitals and nursing homes on legal compliance.  
Alongside his legal practice, Navin regularly conducts lectures and courses for mental health professionals and social work practitioners in hospitals, care homes and local authorities.  His workshops teach front line staff on the practical application of the law, policy and procedure.  His courses have covered areas such as Safeguarding, the Mental Health Act 1983 (2007), the Capacity Act 2005, and Report Writing and Record Keeping.

More recently Navin has linked up with Care and Health Law to provide training and legal briefings to Local Authorities on the implementation of the Care Act 2014. 

Navin enjoys spending most of his spare time with his young daughters, but when not taking them to an endless stream of birthday parties, he snowboards and attempts the occasional long distance challenge. 

Forthcoming events of interest:

Implementing the new statutory framework for Adult Safeguarding under the Care Act 2014: Revised Regulations and Guidance
Monday 2 March 
Cavendish Conference Centre, London

Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards: Ensuring Compliance in Practice
Wednesday 25 March 
ICO Conference Centre, London

Adult Safeguarding Investigations & Safeguarding Adults Reviews
Monday 20 April 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Self Neglect & Adult Safeguarding
Wednesday 6 May 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Information Governance in Mental Health: Implementing Caldicott2 & the New Code of Practice on Confidential Information
Monday 11 May 
Hallam Conference Centre, London

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults in Health Services: Implementing the New Care Act 2014: Revised Regulations and Guidance
Wednesday 17 June 
ICO Conference Centre, London


Download: Navin Suppiah full presentation

23 February 2015


    Partner Organisations

    The Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation TrustInPracticeClinical Audit Support CentrePlayoutJust For Nurses
    GGI (Good Governance Institute) accredited conferences CPD Member ASGBI (Association of Surgeons of Great Britain and Ireland) professional partner BADS (British Association of Day Surgery) accredited conferences