Editorial – making safeguarding personal

Michael Preston-Shoot (Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, United Kingdom.)
Adi Cooper (Adult Social Services, London Borough of Sutton, Sutton, London, UK.)

The Journal of Adult Protection

ISSN: 1466-8203

Article publication date: 8 June 2015



Preston-Shoot, M. and Cooper, A. (2015), "Editorial – making safeguarding personal", The Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 17 No. 3. https://doi.org/10.1108/JAP-03-2015-0007



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Editorial – making safeguarding personal

Article Type: Guest editorial From: The Journal of Adult Protection, Volume 17, Issue 3.

From little acorns the saying goes. The Local Government Association (LGA) and the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) Making Safeguarding Personal (MSP) project began in May 2012 with five test-bed sites. This followed an earlier literature review which concluded that there was no reliable evidence that adult safeguarding processes delivered outcomes valued by service users (Klée, 2009) and the development of a “toolkit” of potential safeguarding interventions (Ogilvie and Williams, 2010). The political and policy context, surrounding the review of No Secrets (Department of Health (DH), 2000), was also supporting moves towards a rebalancing of adult safeguarding in the direction of more personalised, outcomes-focused approaches (Department of Health (DH), 2009).

Four test-bed sites completed the pilot in developing a person-centred response to safeguarding and capturing the outcomes from interventions. The initial pilot was followed by a second phase that involved some 53 local authorities in England, the findings of which enabled the development of an evidence base founded on an understanding of the effectiveness of person-centred, outcomes-focused responses in adult safeguarding (Manthorpe et al., 2014). Now every local authority in England is involved in the MSP project, some NHS and third-sector organisations have expressed a wish to become involved, and the approach is embedded in the statutory guidance (Department of Health (DH), 2014) which spells out how the Care Act 2014 is to be understood and implemented. Moreover, the toolkit that supports MSP, is now in its third edition (Williams et al., 2014), and builds on the methods that have been developed in specific local authority projects, such as family and network conferences, mediation and conflict resolution, restorative justice and achieving best evidence. From little acorns indeed!

A personalised and outcomes-focused approach to adult safeguarding is indeed the centre-piece of MSP but from the outset the additional emphasis has been on developing an evidence base through essentially action research. This themed issue is the latest demonstration of the project’s commitment to learn from the experiences and views of service users and of those professionals who work with them. This themed issue is further illustration of a project that is developing an evidence base from and within practice that is informing policy. Evaluations have been submitted by participating local authorities, capturing learning and outcomes from involving people from the start in their own safeguarding. It is clear that such an approach promotes informed choice and meaningful engagement, develops resilience and confidence, and enables people to feel more empowered and in control (Manthorpe et al., 2014). Professionals too derive benefit from this approach, finding that it reconnects them with social work values and methods, and with skills in negotiation, working with risk, planning, recording, motivational interviewing and family conferencing, and emphasises anew the importance of relationship-based practice. The evidence also suggests that the project has led to system change in at least some participating local authorities, as indeed some of the papers herein attest, including developing research methods to capture and analyse people’s lived experiences of safeguarding systems.

It has not all been plain sailing. Initial funding from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) and the Towards Excellence in Councils’ Adult Social Care (TEASC) Board, and subsequent support from the Department of Health, has enabled project development but uncertainty about its duration has required a careful balancing of ambition with feasibility. Local authorities have faced challenges too, with increasing activity volumes, not least in work surrounding Deprivation of Liberty Safeguards, at a time of financial austerity. There have also been the challenges of convincing staff of the value of a new approach, reconfiguring organisational cultures and systems to embed it, and developing research methods in order to capture quantitative and qualitative outcomes.

However, as the case studies and research outcomes within the papers in this volume demonstrate, MSP is making a tangible difference for service users and for those working with them. It is promoting people’s well-being and ensuring their safety, whilst also where appropriate taking action against those responsible for abuse and neglect. Nine local authorities presented their experiences and findings at a Making Research Count conference in London (30 June 2014) alongside the detailed findings of the second phase (Lawson et al., 2014). Lessons that promote learning and service development are being captured and the approach refined through experience and outcomes. Most importantly of all, the person experiencing abuse and/or neglect is clearly at the centre of the relationships and interactions that are adult safeguarding.

The contributions to this volume provide a sample of a wide range of experiences of adopting a person-centred, outcome-focused approach to safeguarding. There is no single pathway to achieve the practice, system and culture changes that MSP requires, as every place has a different starting point, and safeguarding practice is affected by any number of variables. The Chief Social Worker for Adults has helpfully contributed her views about how MSP fits into the broader adult social work agenda. The end note captures the essence of the 2014/2015 programme, which has involved mainstreaming MSP across the whole of England. MSP continues both as means to implement the Care Act 2014, and a driver for on-going improvement in adult social care safeguarding services. The acorn metaphor is appropriate as this sort of change is slow, yet the scale and impact of this change is huge, not least on the person experiencing abuse and/or neglect at the centre of adult safeguarding practice.

Professor Michael Preston-Shoot is Dean at the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, University of Bedfordshire, Luton, UK.

Dr Adi Cooper is Director of Adult Social Services, Adult Social Services, London Borough of Sutton, Sutton, London, UK.


Department of Health (DH) (2000), No Secrets: Guidance on Developing and Implementing Multi-Agency Policies and Procedures to Protect Vulnerable Adults from Abuse, Department of Health, London

Department of Health (DH) (2009), Safeguarding Adults: Report on the Consultation on the Review of “No Secrets”, Department of Health, London

Department of Health (DH) (2014), Care and Support Statutory Guidance: Issued under the Care Act 2014, The Stationery Office, London

Klée, D. (2009), Review of Literature on Safeguarding Adults Supporting “Vulnerable” People who have Experienced Abouse with Difficult Decision Making, Local Government Association, London

Lawson, J., Lewis, S. and Williams, C. (2014), Making Safeguarding Personal 2013/2014, Summary of Findings, LGA and ADASS, London

Manthorpe, J., Klée, D., Williams, C. and Cooper, A. (2014), “Making safeguarding personal: developing responses and enhancing skills”, Journal of Adult Protection, Vol. 16 No. 2, pp. 96-103

Ogilvie, K. and Williams, C. (2010), Making Safeguarding Personal: A Toolkit for Responses, Local Government Association, London

Williams, C., Ogilvie, K. and White, E. (2014), Making Safeguarding Personal: A Toolkit for Responses, 3rd ed., Local Government Association, London

Related articles