A Guide to Standards of Care Investigations (SOC)

  • FosterWiki
  • Author:FosterWiki
  • Published:07th October 2021
  • Country: United Kingdom

A Foster carers guide to Standards of Care investigations (SOC)

Introduction to Standards of Care investigations

A SOC is an investigation into poor standards of care, standards of care should be dealt with separately from allegations procedures. A Standards of Care investigation is not an allegation.

Often there is confusion around Standards of Care investigations, they are often treated as allegations and some even end up at the panel, however, this is not the correct procedure.

Standards of care investigations or SOC’s should be separate from the allegations process following the National Minimum Standards (22.10). Standards of care issues should be dealt with in supervision. Some unsubstantiated allegations often become standards of care investigations.

National Minimum Standards 22.10

‘Fostering services ensure that a clear distinction is made between the investigation into allegations of harm and discussions over standards of care. Investigations which find no evidence of harm should not become procedures looking into poor standards of care – these should be treated separately’

We would still advise foster carers to read the allegations help, short courses, advice and top tips in the members’ area on how to deal with complaints and investigations against you. We would also recommend you seek help from the union or other support if you are unsure as to how the standards of care are being conducted. It seems that many of the providers workers are unsure of the protocol themselves and can end up dealing with SOCs under the allegations protocol.

What happens in a Standards of Care investigation?

Your provider should have a Standards of Care investigation policy. Below is what it should look like, based on National Minimum Standards and best practices. Usually, the supervising social worker will send their concerns to the fostering manager and they will decide whether the matter should be investigated as a SOC matter or as a safeguarding (allegation) matter.

It is important that the alleged standards of care that have caused concern can be linked to standards and competencies so that they are objective concerns (not opinions).

The steps of a Standards of Care investigation.

  1. The Fostering Manager confirms that the concern should be dealt with under the Standards of Care Procedure, then the Supervising Social Worker must arrange to visit the foster carer within 5 working days of receiving the information to discuss the cause for concern.
  2. In discussion with the Foster Carer the Supervising Social Worker will make the Foster Carer aware of the relevant National Minimum Standard. The Supervising Social Worker will recommend how the issues will be addressed, and propose timescales for completion of the action to bring the standard of practice to the required level.
  3. The Supervising Social Worker will record the visit and include in the record any actions and recommendations. This record will be signed by both parties.
  4. The Supervising Social Worker will send a copy of the record of this visit to the Foster Carers within 5 working days.
  5. If the Foster Carer does not agree to the proposed remedial action at the end of the meeting, a Standards of Care meeting will be convened which has access to this record.

Standards of Care Meeting

There may also be a Standards of Care meeting, but only when necessary as these meetings are in place to explore and record serious and/or repeated concerns raised by other professionals around the child.

These meetings will be arranged if the manager decides there is sufficient concern to warrant a meeting. This may be if there have been several concerns raised about a carer in a year, where they decided that several people are required to fully address the concerns raised, or if the foster carers are unwilling to work with the agency on the SOC investigation.

Process for a Standards of Care meeting

  1. The Fostering Manager or Supervising Social Worker will write to the Foster Carer to inform them of the concerns and the invitation for the meeting.
  2. The supervising social worker will deliver the letter within 5 working days. The Supervising Social Worker will explain the content of the letter to the Foster Carer.
  3. The invitation can include Foster Carer, Family Placement Manager, current Child’s Social Worker and Manager and if appropriate any previous Social Worker, and their Manager. Other professionals including health, education. Independent support/representation for the foster carer should also be invited.
  4. The Fostering Manager should chair the meeting and minutes will be taken by a member of the Family Placement Service Administrative staff.

The purpose of the meeting is to enable a full and open discussion about the concerns and identify a way forward. These outcomes may be additional training, and/or more supervision.

The household review/annual review may be bought forward, if not the minutes of the SOC meeting would go on the next foster carers review. Only if the foster carer does not wish to engage in the review can the matter be taken to a panel.

What foster carers say

What to be mindful of

If you get a Standards of Care investigation be fully compliant and work together with your provider, it should not escalate and should be dealt with as a part of supervision.

However, do make sure you are aware of the procedure as many social workers seem to be unaware themselves, make sure the correct procedure is followed according to the National Minimum Standards, your foster carers agreement and the providers’ handbook.

If this happens contact the union or other support (unfortunately you may find some support organisations will not even acknowledge this has happened) and work with them on your case.

Links

investigations National Minimum Standards 22.10 NMS NMS 22.10 SOC Standards of Care