Multi Agency Safeguarding Hub (MASH)
Information sharing is key…
Safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children and adults with care and support needs is everyone’s responsibility and the evidence nationally and locally indicates that information sharing is vital to achieving this. Despite professionals’ best efforts, information sharing is always a theme within any review process where improvements have to be made. The MASH provides the opportunity for agencies to do this better by providing all professionals with more information on which to make better decisions.
What is the MASH?
The Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent MASH is a partnership between seven key public sector organisations, covering the county of Staffordshire and the city of Stoke-on-Trent, who work together to improve safeguarding outcomes for children, adults with care and support needs and those people involved in serious domestic abuse situations.
Which agencies make up the MASH?
- Staffordshire County Council (Adults (SAST) and Children (FRT))
- Stoke-on-Trent City Council (Adults and Children (SRT))
- Staffordshire Police (MASH Police Team)
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent Partnership NHS Trust (SSOTP)
- National Probation Service
- North Staffordshire Combined (Mental) Health Trust (NSCHT)
- South Staffordshire and Shropshire (Mental Health) Foundation Trust (SSSFT)
What does the MASH do?
To help improve safeguarding outcomes, the MASH is organised for agencies to share information associated with a family or household after an incident has occurred (or a referral has been received). This information will then inform the decision-making of the referral owning agency such as Children’s Social Care services, so that this decision is made in a more informed way than if only single-agency information were available. This helps to make sure that:
- Vulnerable people get a better service and are better protected.
- Multi-agency information provides detail that leads the referral to be stepped up to a higher threshold than without the extra information. This then better safeguards the subject of the referral as a more rigorous (and therefore safer) provision will be put in place.
- Multi-agency information provides detail that leads the referral to be stepped down to a lower threshold than without the extra information. This then provides a less intrusive service and reduces costs to services.
- It confirms the suggestive threshold, so that the individual receiving the referral can be confident in the decision they have made and its appropriateness.
- What are the benefits?
As well as delivering value around decision-making, which is its core purpose, the MASH delivers additional value as it:
- Enables more effective and efficient information sharing
- Provides awareness raising by informing agencies already working with a family/individual (for a different purpose) of concerns that have been identified
- Provides benefits simply because agencies are co-located, which enables sharing of information to support downstream agency core business and general multi-agency working.
What type of referrals do MASH share information about?
The MASH is responsible for processing referrals in the following groups:
- Children’s Services – concerns about the welfare of a child (Child in Need section 17, or child protection section 47 of the Children Act 1989)
- Adults Services – concerns about the welfare of an adult with care and support needs (section 42 of the Care Act 2014)
- Police – concerns regarding serious domestic abuse situations.
These are then able to be processed in the MASH for information-sharing if they are indicatively assessed at one of the following thresholds:
- Children’s Social Care Services – Child in Need or Child Protection
- Adults Services – S42 investigation
- Police – potential MARAC case
- Staffordshire First Response Team (Children) 0800 1313126
- Staffordshire Adults Team (contact centre) 0845 6042719
- Stoke-on-Trent Safeguarding Referral Team (Children) 01782 235100
- Stoke-on-Trent Adults Referrals (contact centre) 0800 5610015
- Staffordshire Police MASH Team (Professionals only) 01785 235350
- Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent NHS Partnership Trust 01785 895630
The MASH has multi-layered governance with membership and ownership from all MASH agencies. The diagram sets out the structure: (see related links)
The MASH Operating Principles are currently under revision and will be included on the respective Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent children’s and adults safeguarding boards’ websites once completed.
MASH Leadership Group Responsibilities:
- Ownership of the vision of the MASH
- Reviewing performance of the MASH against both the MASH and individual agency performance frameworks
- Identifying requirements and providing strategic direction for future development of the MASH
- Assuring that national policy and legislative changes are responded to within the practice of the MASH
- Escalation of any required issues within strategic leadership of organisations, local Staffordshire and Stoke-on-Trent political arenas and nationally
- Overseeing wider partnership arrangements and functioning linked to the MASH operations and pathways.
MASH Strategic Management Board Responsibilities:
- • Ensuring performance of the MASH against both the MASH and individual agency performance frameworks
- • Identifying requirements and providing direction for future development of the MASH
- • Ensuring that the MASH Change Control Process is adhered to by all agencies
- • Authorisation of changes within the operational MASH and resolution of issues between agencies when these have not been approved by the Operational Management Group
- • Ensuring that the MASH is properly resourced across all agencies
- • Ensuring that national policy and legislative changes are responded to within the practice of the MASH.
MASH Operational Managers Group Responsibilities:
- Ensuring that day-to-day operations of the MASH are effective
- Discussion and resolution of issues regarding the day-to-day operations of the MASH, including introduction of specific initiatives / operations to deal with identified issues
- Approval of Change Controls raised by any agency. Where these cannot be approved by this Group these will be escalated to the Strategic Management Board
- Monitoring performance of the MASH against both the MASH and individual agency performance frameworks and taking mitigating action where required
- Supporting the development of the MASH in accordance with the priorities of the Strategic Management Board and Leadership Group.
- Please note that the Information Governance Assurance Board and the Core Components Monitoring Board are under development.
MASH Myth Busting:
Myth 1: ‘MASH is Lindum House’
Facts: MASH is a place where people from different agencies work together.
Only some cases require agencies to come together to share information to help protect people who are at the highest level of risk. Those agencies are called ‘referral owners’.
The MASH is based at Lindum House in Stone, Staffordshire which is a Staffordshire Police owned property. There are other teams based at Lindum House that are not part of the MASH partnership and some of these operate services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Myth 2: ‘All information is ‘MASHED’
Fact: Each agency can decide what cases require information sharing; this is not every case as it would not be proportionate or legal to do so.
Myth 3: ‘MASH owns all the information’
Fact: MASH is not an entity; it is a facility where each agency in the MASH owns their individual information. They come together to share this when they have concerns about any referral that they consider they need more information on from partner agencies also situated in the MASH. This information is combined and then owned by the ‘referral owning’ agency.
Myth 4: ‘The Staffordshire Adult Safeguarding Team is huge and can do all the work themselves’
Fact: The Staffordshire Adult Safeguarding Team is a small team (of ten people) that covers the whole of the county. They
manage the initial screening part of the process, they coordinate and manage the initial part of any investigation and they
coordinate the multi-agency strategy discussion before handing the case to an area team for investigation