Safeguarding adults – understanding good practice

19 September 2017

Image: Adi Cooper and Emily WhiteAdi Cooper and Emily White

The Care Act 2014 put the safeguarding of adults on a legal footing for the first time. Its implementation over the past two years, supported by national initiatives such as Making Safeguarding Personal, means that social care researchers, practitioners and managers have been testing out a range of responses to support adults at risk of abuse or neglect to improve or resolve their circumstances.

In our new book, Safeguarding Adults Under the Care Act 2014 – Understanding Good Practice, we have drawn together contributions from practitioners, renowned academics, lawyers, trainers and other leading experts working in the field of safeguarding.

We have taken an evidence-informed approach to the content, ensuring that the contributions bring together both evidence from research and practice expertise, to bring an extra dimension to each topic.

Safeguarding adults is a diverse and complex area of social care work, which means that practitioners have to develop understanding of complex family and personal relationships, power and control, assessing risk, and the range of legal responses that might be available to them. We hope that this diverse collection of experiences will support practitioners to develop best practice in safeguarding adults, working with people to keep themselves safe from abuse or neglect.

The topics in the book offer students and practitioners a structured introduction to approaches to safeguarding practice. These all focus on putting the person at the centre of all practice, as well as working with risk and using the law. Four chapters also target specific areas of adult safeguarding that present real challenges for today’s practitioners – self-neglect and hoarding, domestic abuse, modern slavery, and financial scamming.

Each of the chapters identifies and harnesses evidence from multiple sources including leading academic research, international government policy, evaluations of local authorities’ tests of approaches from across the country, blogs and perspectives written by people using social care services, and practitioner experiences in the form of case studies.

The book addresses the challenges of sourcing, bringing together and reconciling the two perspectives of research and practice, by acknowledging and engaging directly with the complexity of safeguarding adults. Each chapter offers valuable discussion of the issues and presentation of the available evidence alongside practical and manageable tips for busy practitioners to use in the course of their work. This includes the introduction of new approaches, such as restorative justice, as well as support for work in longstanding areas of complexity, such as the Mental Capacity Act 2005. It also provides students and practitioners with the opportunity to reflect and think about the issues in a field of work when there is often no clear single answer or resolution.

Some recurring key messages for good practice in safeguarding adults emerged in the process of compiling this book:

  • Listen to what adults with care and support needs tell us about what they want to happen in their lives.
  • Continuous learning is important; being open to new and different ways of thinking and ‘borrowing’ from other fields of work.
  • A willingness to learn from what has not worked is needed, as well as what has.
  • Recognise that organisations can have cultures that inadvertently promote abuse and neglect, and be open to changing the culture of these organisations.
  • It is crucial to understand the legal framework that not only ensures safety but promotes the human rights of those who are unable to protect themselves.
  • Safeguarding adults is contradictory, complex, constantly changing and therefore requires a flexible, curious and questioning approach.

As both editors and contributors, we hope that readers will find Safeguarding Adults Under the Care Act 2014 – Understanding Good Practice the right starting point for exactly this approach.

About the authors

Dr Adi Cooper OBE is Independent Chair of two Safeguarding Adults Boards, co-Chair of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) Safeguarding Adults Policy Network, the Care and Health Improvement Advisor for London (and safeguarding adults lead) for the Local Government Association, and Visiting Professor at the University of Bedfordshire. Working in adult social care for over 25 years, she was the Director of Adult Social Services, Housing and Health for Sutton Council for nine years. She has contributed to adult safeguarding national policy development, service improvement, Care Act 2014 guidance, and the Making Safeguarding Personal programme.

Emily White is a qualified social worker with a range of experiences across adult social care, including services for older people, learning disability, physical disability and drugs and alcohol. She has worked for the Audit Commission in performance assessment, the Care Quality Commission as a regulatory inspector and as an advisor to the Local Government Association on Making Safeguarding Personal. She is currently working as Principal Social Worker and Head of Quality Improvement and Safeguarding for Central Bedfordshire Council.

Related resources

Involving people in safeguarding adults: Leaders' Briefing (2016) 

Appreciative inquiry in safeguarding adults: Practice Tool (2015)

Safeguarding in light of the Care Act: Leaders' Briefing (2015)  

Reimagining adult social care: Evidence Review (2015)  

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