Case Studies


Midland Heart is one of the top ten housing and care organisations in the UK. They transform the lives of individuals and communities through housing, care and associated services.

Their work involves supporting those who need help to live independently, as well as assisting in regenerating communities and helping individuals to discover their own abilities.

They own and manage more than 32,000 homes across 54 local authority areas and invest in excess of £100 million each year, providing and maintaining homes for more than 70,000 people.

The Challenge

1. Safeguarding Governance

The business is divided into ‘care and support’ and ‘customer and communities’ with separate organisations systems, neither of which were cross referenced or supported by an over arching safeguarding processes and governance.

A ‘Safeguarding Champions’ model already existed as part of Midland Heart’s safeguarding structure and the nominated safeguarding champions were in place. The framework for the safeguarding process and internal structures, as well as the clarity of their roles and expectations was a concern and a key challenge to Midland Heart.

The collection and recording of current safeguarding data did not provide sufficient detail of information needed by the business to assist in future robust monitoring and audit functions.

New ‘IT’ systems being implemented needed to include any changes to safeguarding procedures and governance in order to provide a safer business strategy. Midland Heart wanted an increased transparency in all safeguarding matters.

2. Safeguarding Policy and Procedures

Midland Heart’s Safeguarding Policy for Vulnerable Adults was due to be updated in 2013 and any new procedures would need to include any changes to Safeguarding governance, structure and IT recording systems procedures. They had a separate Safeguarding Children Policy and wished to create a single policy covering both children and adults with separate procedures.

In house Policy writers would need specialist expert advice and guidance in the formulation of any new Safeguarding Policy and Procedures both for Vulnerable Adults and Children.

3. Skills and Training

An up to date safeguarding training programme existed across the organisation’s workforce. However there were concerns around safer working practice by staff, or if they had the skills to undertake their roles and responsibilities for Safeguarding.

The Athena Solution

Athena believed in working with Midland Heart based on a partnership approach.

A workshop style facilitation and training day was delivered to the Senior Management team to deliver basic safeguarding training (for Vulnerable Adults and Children). This time was devoted to debate for scoping a strategic organisational plan allowing time to reflect on roles and safeguarding responsibilities of staff. Draft a golden thread approach to robust organisational governance framework, draft terms of reference for safeguarding champions/leads, risk management tools and reporting pathways. A follow up report was provided by Athena following this workshop to reflect decisions made and a new Midland Heart governance chart.

An ‘on-site’ analysis of internal reporting and recording systems was proposed by an Athena Manager. Expert advice and guidance could be sought at outset of work to develop new internal procedures and new IT systems.

Athena offered the review of its updated Safeguarding Policy and procedures completed by their in- house policy department by one of its experienced safeguarding consultancy managers.

A Safeguarding Champions training day was proposed following the facilitation day to cover basic awareness training and new governance structure including roles and responsibilities of staff, safer culture, risk management and internal reporting pathways.

The Outcome

Athena provided a prompt, friendly and efficient service in this partnership. All meetings, training events, other activities and reports were delivered on time to a high standard.

Athena led the management and timing of the delivery of the work to ensure efficient and effective results. e.g. Athena needed to review and feedback on internal systems before final draft of the safeguarding procedures could be produced by in-house Policy department for final review by Athena consultancy manager.

1. Safeguarding Governance

A workshop style facilitation and training day was held for the Senior Management team from which a transparent safeguarding governance and structure was agreed. Roles and responsibilities were clarified and priority training needs identified. Robust review and monitoring systems were agreed through a newly formed Safeguarding Review Group.

This workshop facilitation day was designed to, and provided opportunities for discussion and critical reflection by senior managers in key risk areas.

2. Safeguarding Policy and Procedures

The latest draft of Midland Heart Safeguarding Policy and Procedures were reviewed for compliance against a number of indicators and standards in England.  E.g. Current legislation, National Guidance, local Adult and Children Safeguarding Boards, Care Quality Commission.

A template report/spreadsheet was completed hi-lighting areas for updating or change quoting the authority for change. i.e. Change of name from Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults to Safeguarding Adults at Risk.

A sample safeguarding incident report form was provided on the site visit to analyse internal systems. This formed the basis for discussions on reporting safeguarding concerns and was used as a guide to ensure all relevant details would be captured on the new internal IT recording systems.

3. Skills and Training

Priority training needs were identified from the Senior Management facilitation day for the ‘Safeguarding Champions’ who were to form the backbone of new safeguarding structure.

For this training Athena delivered a Safeguarding Champions training workshop which met agreed learning outcomes to meet their new roles and responsibilities, including safer culture, risk management, reporting pathways and new safeguarding structure and governance. This training session was up-to-date, informal, fun and designed to include a variety of learning approaches which were participative, inclusive and interactive.

Both training days were designed to include interactive training methods and were complemented by a ‘power point’ presentation. Current and relevant safeguarding issues agreed with Midland Heart were planed into the key messages including recent preventative Safeguarding legislation e.g. child abuse disclosure scheme/domestic abuse disclosure pilot scheme.

Lydia Bailey – Head of Learning Disability and Mental Health said….

”The work with Athena has enabled us to feel more confident about our roles and responsibilities and has given us confidence that our revised governance structure is robust”