Involvement of service users in adult safeguarding

Janet Wallcraft (Based at the School of Social Policy, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Publication date: 15 June 2012



The purpose of this paper is to summarise findings of a review of service user and carer involvement in safeguarding and recommendations for good practice.


The study involved a review of selected literature and a consultation exercise with experts in the field of adult safeguarding and telephone interviews with 13 Adult Safeguarding Leads across England and Wales.


Service users value rights, independence, choice and support. Adult Safeguarding policy sets out an expectation of service user involvement in the process and expects agencies to balance rights to self‐determination with properly managed risk. In practice, agencies tend to be risk‐averse and service users often do not feel involved in their safeguarding processes. Processes such as collaborative risk enablement, training and capacity building, working with BME groups and evaluation of involvement help. Good practice examples of involvement in Safeguarding Boards or local forums, developing new methods of user feedback and community involvement were found. Recommendations include more involvement of service users in research, more effective forms of involvement of groups who may be more excluded, shared responsibility for risk, and more training in rights legislation.

Practical implications

The paper offers recommendations for good practice in improving involvement in adult safeguarding, which is a requirement and an essential component of delivering good services to vulnerable adults.


Service user involvement in health and social care is now widespread, but there is little knowledge of how to involve the most vulnerable service users who are in need of protection, or how to balance risk and empowerment. This paper addresses the dilemmas facing Adult Protection staff, summarises the experience of practitioners based on the first decade of adult safeguarding work and sets out guidance for improving practice.



Wallcraft, J. (2012), "Involvement of service users in adult safeguarding", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 14 No. 3, pp. 142-150.

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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