For this assignment I will be evaluating the role of multi-agency working in reducing the risk of abuse to adults. Multi-agency working is the care planning process and single assessment process which encourages greater inter-agency working together, with the service user’s needs being central to the process. This is where professionals from different agencies combine their skills and expertise to meet the holistic needs of the service user. (Billingham, Stretch and Whitehouse, 2007) Along with everything, there are many advantages and disadvantages with the multi-agency working.
McCoy believed that Multi-agency working is a more responsive approach, as clients may be able to move quicker between services as and when their needs change. Also with Multi-agency working the responsibility is shared as the system clarifies for whom it is prepared to provide care and designs services accordingly.
Quinney also believes that those working together in the multi-agency working have a higher job satisfaction. He says that as long as the start-up phase of the partnership is well managed then it stimulates opportunities to share learning and skills.
Multi-agency working is a good opportunity to take a more holistic approach to meeting a service users’ needs and to provide preventative social and health work. It allows for a more comprehensive and earlier intervention. Leathard says that Multi-agency working means that everyone’s values are shared, everyone in the team is important and necessary to make it work. People are more prepared to make bolder decisions as the responsibility and accountability are shared. Multi-agency working is believed to be more efficient, that service users will get an increased quality of service. There is more constructive cooperation, everyone shares their knowledge, skills and expertise. This means that someone may have a better approach due to better knowledge of the subject, it is not to say that your approach is wrong, however, just how to make your approach better for the service user.
For example; a drug counsellor would have better knowledge on how to deal with a person’s drug problem better than a social worker. However, when working in a multi-agency team the more professional group can often take over the team, what they says goes because they feel that they are more superior. Also a Multi-agency meeting can be time consuming. It can often be difficult to have all professions that are working in the team together at the same time. What suits one team member, may not suit another team member. When working together as part of a multi-agency team, information sharing is essential. All information about a service user must be shared with everyone on the team. However, not everyone agrees with this, some may feel that only certain people need to know certain things. For example; a social worker may feel that the service user’s teacher doesn’t need to know that they have been abused when they were a child.
Although all information should be shared so that everyone on the team can see the bigger picture of the individual in order for them to know how to help them. Also there can sometimes be too many professionals in the team, as the saying goes ‘too many cooks spoil the broth’. To work well, teams need an increased understanding and respect of each other. They must also have an increased commitment to collaborate with each other, they need to be willing to work together in order for it all to succeed as well as a greater awareness for the shared values and goals. They must also have a greater awareness of the need for agreed set standards. If these factors are not evident, then it will cause negative outcomes and will show that it is no better than a single intervention. An example of when Multi-agency working did not work well was the Case of Baby Peter who died On August 3 after being physically abused for months. Baby Peter’s mother had disclosed to authorities that her boyfriend was now living with them; however nobody ever investigated into his background. (Mail Online, 2010).
Multi Agency should have come into play here, the agencies who were involved in this case should have done more investigating into those who were living with the child, backgrounds. This may have prevented the death of Baby P. ‘The mother’s boyfriend had previously been questioned by police on suspicion of torturing his grandmother’ (Mail Online, 2010). If the correct procedures had been followed then this should have given authorities a case for concern, and perhaps prevented any further abuse happening to Baby Peter. This information should have been shared between each member of the multi-agency team, and he should have been looked into. The multi-agency team that was working with Baby Peter did not work together as a team, which in turn gave a negative outcome as a child lost his life. Another case where multi-agency work did not work was in Winterbourne View. ‘BBC’s programme Panorama showed the vulnerable residents being pinned down, slapped, doused in water and taunted.’ (BBC News, 2011)
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) had been contacted by a former nurse of Winterbourne View, however their concerns were ignored. The CQC have since said that it was a ‘misjudgement’ that the former nurse’s concerns were not investigated. (BBC News, 2012) When this concern was raised, an investigation should have taken place to see if the accusations where true. Police should then have been informed, along with social services and a Health agency. Together they should have worked together to work out their best options on how they were going to deal with the situation. A third example would be of the famous McElhill case.
‘Convicted sex offender Arthur McElhill killed himself and his family in a house fire in Omagh, County Tyrone’ (News.bbc.co.uk, 2014). McElhill had had previous suicide attempts and used Bebo a social-networking account in his son’s name to groom teenage girls for sex. He also had two previous convictions for rape. (News.bbc.co.uk, 2014). Due to his past history police should have informed social services of the father’s previous convictions and the school should have informed social services and the police along with the education board of the fears that they had for the children’s safety. However, these different agencies did not work together, and if a multi-agency team was formed then this may have stopped the horrific incident from occurring.
After looking at multi-agency working I have noticed that there are advantages as well as disadvantages. As long as information is shared and everyone works effectively together then there is no reason that it can’t work. Everyone who is working together must put the service users’ needs first and it must be what is best for them and not what is easiest.
Mail Online, (2010). Let down by everyone who should have cared: Report reveals appalling failures that led to Baby P’s brutal death. [online] Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1323804/Baby-P-report-reveals-appalling-failures-cared.html [Accessed 19 Nov. 2014]. BBC News, (2011). Hospital faced more abuse claims. [online] Available at: