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Joint Work

1. Using this Guidance

This guidance has been written to support any Local Authority practitioner who will be working jointly with:

  1. Another Local Authority practitioner; or
  2. A practitioner from another organisation (for example health or education).

It sets out:

  1. The forms that joint work can take;
  2. Some of the benefits of joint work;
  3. Some general principles for good joint work; and
  4. The joint working protocols in place locally.

2. Defining Joint Work

Broadly speaking joint work can be defined as:

  1. A process involving more than one practitioner; where
  2. A co-operative approach is taken; to
  3. Benefit a person with care and support needs, or a carer with support needs.

Joint work can take many forms, many of which can apply at the same time:

Nature Description Example
Low level Basic functions and information sharing

Information sharing after a verbal request

Co-operating with small tasks and functions to carry out a process

High level Complex work or functions

Shared assessment

Multi-agency safeguarding

Determining eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare

Single agency Local Authority joint work

A social worker and an Occupational Therapist

A Reablement worker and a social worker

Multi-agency Joint work across more than one agency

Integrated health and social care teams

An Occupational Therapist and a Physiotherapist

A social worker and a teacher

Informal Joint work that does not require a formal request

Contacting a nurse to request information about health needs

Contacting a teacher to confirm a young person's needs at college

Formal Subject to a formal request

Referral for an assessment

A request to be part of a safeguarding MDT

Direct Involving the person or carer

Determining eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare

A joint funding assessment

A joint social work/OT assessment

Indirect No direct involvement of the person or carer

Liaising with the Direct Payment team to arrange a Direct Payment

Liaising with the Brokerage team to identify available care home placements

3. The Benefit of Joint Work

Good joint work has many benefits, some of which are set out in the table below.

Benefit to the Person or Carer Benefit to the Organisation
A holistic approach to meeting their needs, rather than a staggered one. Shared resources (time and services).
Reassurance that complex or multiple needs are being met in the right way. Reduced administrative burden if tasks can be shared.
Only having to provide information once. A wider range of available options to meet needs.
Having access to all relevant information and expert advice at the same time. More effective processes.
More timely decision making. A greater understanding of the roles and responsibilities of others.
More sustainable outcomes. More robust decision making through the appropriate challenge of others.

4. The Duty to Co-Operate

Under section 6 of the Care Act:

  1. The Local Authority must co-operate generally with relevant partners; and
  2. Relevant partners must co-operate with the Local Authority; when
  3. That co-operation is required to ensure that care and support functions are carried out; or
  4. When carrying out more localised functions relating to other statutory duties and responsibilities.

If a formal request is made in writing for joint work (for example through a referral) the person receiving that request must co-operate with it unless:

  1. Doing so will prevent them from carrying out their own duties under the Care Act or any other legislation; or
  2. Doing so will prevent them from exercising any of their other functions; in which case
  3. They must provide a written explanation of their reasons for declining to the person making the request.

5. Local Joint Working Protocols

It is important that you are familiar with any local joint working protocols that have been agreed between:

  1. Different areas of the Local Authority; and
  2. The Local Authority and other organisations.

These will set out:

  1. How practitioners in those areas should work together;
  2. Any specific arrangements or processes that have been agreed; and
  3. The circumstances in which they apply.

6. General Principles for Joint Work

The following table sets out:

  1. Some of the general principles for good joint work; and
  2. Some examples for applying them.
Principle How to apply
Professional courtesy

Make contact when you say you will

Provide information as agreed

Return calls and respond to emails

Value the contribution of others

Use appropriate language and have professional respect for those in authority

Inform of any delays or issues when they arise

Raise any concerns about the actions (or inactions) of another practitioner appropriately

Understand roles

Make sure the other practitioner understands your role, and any limitations

Make sure you understand their role-ask questions if you need to

Be clear about the tasks that you need to carry out

Make sure you understand the tasks that they need to carry out-ask questions if you need to

Set expectations

Be clear about all expectations for the joint work across all organisations involved

Identify any potential issues and take steps to prevent them arising

Expectations could include:

  • Timeframes to begin and end the joint work
  • Proposed outcomes of the joint work
  • What you are anticipating their role to be
  • What they are anticipating your role to be
Agree tasks and functions

Identify all of the different tasks and functions and agree who will carry them out.

Think about:

  • How to avoid unnecessary duplication
  • Who will be the person/carer's primary contact
  • Who will chair any meetings
  • Who will keep a minute of meetings
  • How routine records will be made
  • Who will record formal reports e.g. an assessment;
  • Who will
Review individual responsibilities as required, especially if things are not working to plan

Joint work can only take place if the person consents unless:

  1. The person lacks capacity to consent; and
  2. A Deputy or Lasting Power of Attorney provides consent in their Best Interests; or
  3. Where there is no Deputy or Lasting Power of Attorney, the Local Authority makes a Best Interest decision to this effect.

The only occasion when direct joint work can take place without the consent of the person is when it is taking place as part of a safeguarding enquiry.

In the case of carers, direct joint work can only take place with their consent.

Need to know

When joint work between practitioners in the same agency is required to effectively arrange services the consent of the person or carer can be assumed if:

  1. The person has consented to the service being arranged; and
  2. The joint work is for the sole purpose of arranging the service.

(e.g. arranging a Direct Payment with the Direct Payment Team).

8. Delays in Joint Work

If there are likely to be delays in allocation or commencement of joint work the person who requested the joint work will need to:

  1. Consider whether to proceed with their intervention; or
  2. Await allocation (or availability) of the other practitioner.
It is the responsibility of the person requesting joint work to make this decision (in agreement with the person and any carer) and to take steps to ensure that any urgent needs for Care and Support are met.

9. Recording Joint Work

All recording of joint work should be made in line with local joint working protocols.

If in any doubt about the need for you to make a record you should always make a record.

10. Whistleblowing

Joint work can involve working closely with other practitioners and professionals, during which time you will observe aspects of their practice. If you are concerned that any aspect of their practice:

  1. Compromises the safety or Wellbeing of a person with care and support needs; or
  2. Compromises the safety or Wellbeing of a carer with support needs; or
  3. Compromises the safety of a child;
  4. You must use the whistleblowing procedure to raise your concern;
  5. Regardless of the organisation that the practitioner or professional works for.

The whistleblowing procedure can be accessed by clicking here.

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