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SSA Toolkit

Record background


Record background

Record background

Recording the background of the assessment

This section looks at how to describe the background to the assessment. This is important because it sets the scene for the rest of the SSA.

On this page:

Record background is the first activity in the Examine phase of an SSA

Record background is an activity in the Examine phase of SSA

Recording the Background

It is important to make sure that key details about the assessment are clearly recorded at the start of the SSA.

A Project title is needed to make sure that the assessment can be easily referenced in the future. Ideally, the title should be quite short but contain enough information to identify the work unambiguously.

Other important information includes the Date(s) on which the SSA will be carried out, and information about the Team/People conducting the assessment. It is useful to provide the name of the person in charge as well as some details about the team as a whole, including their roles (Senior Clinical Nurse or Service User Representative, for example). This information should be modified, if the people or date change in the process of doing the SSA.

It is also useful to record a brief description of the Background to the SSA, for example, a few sentences explaining the reasons - or triggers - for the SSA. This puts the assessment into context, both when carrying out the SSA and when referring back to it later. These triggers are likely to arise from a variety of sources. They might include patient safety incidents involving harm, near misses or simply situations which evoke general concerns about service delivery. Other reasons for doing a safety assessment include: a routine check on the integrity of a service; a proposed improvement in an existing service; setting up a new service or introducing a new practice, technology or new staff; decommissioning a current service; or an external directive requiring changes or checks.

The reasons for carrying out the example SSA were: disquiet over existing arrangements; external system concerns; the number of incidents is increasing, partly because the age of patients being admitted has increased; and new build provides opportunity to review ways of working, including operational risks.

Examples of reasons for carrying out an SSA for the building of a new mental health unit

Putting 'Recording the background' into practice

Space to record this information is provided in the SSA Assessment Form. To do this:

  1. Select the ‘Record background’ page in the Assessment Form.
  2. Enter the Project title, Team name and Date in the boxes provided.
  3. Enter further Details of the team/people conducting the assessment and Background in the remaining boxes on this page.
Screenshot of Record background page of the assessment form

Case Study

The completed ‘Record background’ page from the Section 136 case study is shown opposite. Further explanation of this stage in the case study can be found on the Section 136 page about Recording background.