Mediation and family group conferences in adult safeguarding

Abbi Hobbs (Independent Consultant based in the UK)
Andrew Alonzi (Managing Director of Capacity Care CIC, Newark, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Publication date: 5 April 2013



This paper presents an overview of research and practice literature on the use of Mediation (M) and Family Group Conferences (FGC) in the context of adult safeguarding in the UK.


This paper describes the main features of M and FGC and explores how such “family led” approaches to adult safeguarding fit within the wider agenda of personalisation and empowerment, including the Mental Capacity Act 2005 and its associated Code of Practice. It also considers the main implications for best practice and future research and service priorities.


M and FGC in an adult context are inclusive processes that enable people to explore choices and options in a supportive environment, assuring maximum possible independence and autonomous control over basic life decisions, while still addressing the person's need for assistance. When used appropriately, both approaches can be a valuable response to safeguarding concerns, promoting choice and control at the same time as protecting people from risk of abuse and harm. However, there are few robust evaluation studies currently available and no systematic research studies were found on cost‐effectiveness.


The paper shows that there is a clear need for further pilots of M and FGC in adult safeguarding. If such research and pilot evaluations find M and/or FGC to be effective, then more consideration will need to be given as to how to integrate such approaches into mainstream social work practice. There is also currently wide variation in the training and experience of mediators and FGC co‐ordinators, and further work is required to ensure that there are appropriate training and accreditation models in the UK for mediators and FGC co‐ordinators working with at‐risk adults.



Abbi Hobbs and Andrew Alonzi (2013) "Mediation and family group conferences in adult safeguarding", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 15 No. 2, pp. 69-84

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