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Learning from safeguarding adult reviews on self-neglect: addressing the challenge of change

Michael Preston-Shoot (Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK) (Brent Safeguarding Adults Board, London, UK) (Lewisham Safeguarding Adults Board, London, UK)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 9 April 2018




The purpose of this paper is to update the core data set of self-neglect safeguarding adult reviews (SARs) and accompanying thematic analysis, and to address the challenge of change, exploring the necessary components beyond an action plan to ensure that findings and recommendations are embedded in policy and practice.


Further published reviews are added to the core data set from the websites of Safeguarding Adults Boards (SABs). Thematic analysis is updated using the four domains employed previously. The repetitive nature of the findings prompts questions about how to embed policy and practice change, to ensure impactful use of learning from SARs. A framework for taking forward an action plan derived from an SAR findings and recommendations is presented.


Familiar, even repetitive findings emerge once again from the thematic analysis. This level of analysis enables an understanding of both local geography and the national legal, policy and financial climate within which it sits. Such learning is valuable in itself, contributing to the evidence base of what good practice with adults who self-neglect looks like. However, to avoid the accusation that lessons are not learned, something more than a straightforward action plan to implement the recommendations is necessary. A framework is conceptualised for a strategic and longer-term approach to embedding policy and practice change.

Research limitations/implications

There is still no national database of reviews commissioned by SABs so the data set reported here might be incomplete. The Care Act 2014 does not require publication of reports but only a summary of findings and recommendations in SAB annual reports. This makes learning for service improvement challenging. Reading the reviews reported here enables conclusions to be reached about issues to address locally and nationally to transform adult safeguarding policy and practice.

Practical implications

Answering the question “how to create sustainable change” is a significant challenge for SARs. A framework is presented here, drawn from research on change management and learning from the review process itself. The critique of serious case reviews challenges those now engaged in SARs to reflect on how transformational change can be achieved to improve the quality of adult safeguarding policy and practice.


The paper extends the thematic analysis of available reviews that focus on work with adults who self-neglect, further building on the evidence base for practice. The paper also contributes new perspectives to the process of following up SARs by using the findings and recommendations systematically within a framework designed to embed change in policy and practice.



Preston-Shoot, M. (2018), "Learning from safeguarding adult reviews on self-neglect: addressing the challenge of change", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 20 No. 2, pp. 78-92.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited

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