Ask Sheila - Archive England

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and therefore is no longer available to answer your social care questions. However, you might still find the answer you’ve been searching for down below.

09th March 2017

In the case of a violent service user, is my responsibility to them or my staff?

Dear Sheila,

I am an assistant manager of a small residential care home for adult men with mental health disorders, managing the home while the registered manager is on holiday.

One of our service users has just been arrested and removed from the care home after a serious assault on a member of staff. This is the second serious assault he has made on a member of staff not including other minor attacks where he has specifically targeted two members of staff in particular. Because of the sustained nature of the attack, I considered it necessary to request that he was not returned to the care home but held by the police until emergency accommodation could be found. My view is that while he is a significant threat to these two members of staff, they are at risk and the other service users are at risk as they depend on the staff for their safety and well-being. I am concerned that we are unable to care for him in these circumstances but I am also concerned that the authorities are taking a long time to rehouse him. He is staying with a friend for a couple of nights but as his behaviour deteriorates without the medication he needs (we passed this to the city mental health recovery team to administer to him but they haven't visited him yet) he is likely to be made homeless while they search for emergency accommodation for him.

I have written a letter of notice for him but have not been able to deliver it.

All the proper authorities have been notified and are involved in trying to rearrange his accommodation.

My main question is over the responsibility of rehousing him vs the responsibility to keep staff and service users safe; Can the council force us to receive him back into the home based on a lack of acceptable notice period (due to emergency) or is my responsibility to the security of staff and service users of a higher legal priority?

Thanks very much for your advice, in advance.



Dear A,


What a difficult time you are having and you are clearly dealing with this well.


I think you will be doing this already but you must keep clear records of all the decisions you are making and all your conversations etc that you are having with the other organisations involved in this person's care.


You have a clear duty of care to your service users and your staff and as much as you have tried to help this gentleman he has caused real and serious harm to members of your staff.


You cannot and you would not be expected to take this gentleman back under the current circumstances because that would clearly place others at risk.


If you have any immediate circumstances which you feel you need to speak to me, please call Quality Compliance Systems (0333 405 33 33) and ask them to get a message to me as quickly as possible via email and I will telephone you.


It seems to me that you are working well with the other organisations involved including the Council and I believe that in this situation a solution will be found acceptable to all.


All good wishes.




*All information is correct at the time of publishing.

About Sheila

Sheila Scott OBE has now retired and over the years , prior to her retirement she has answered thousands of your social questions. You can still access the many questions below.

For Sheila Scott OBE as the former CEO of National Care Association (NCA), care is Sheila's life. She possesses a strong command of the issues facing the care sector informed by her long career as a nursing professional, the owner and manager of a care business, and as a leader in the care sector.

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