The purpose of this paper is to review the reasons underlying the slow rate of progress towards developing a comprehensive policy underpinning for adult safeguarding in England and proposes long-term solutions.
This paper uses a model of policy change to argue that adult safeguarding has been over-reliant on case histories to define its policy problems and influence its politics, while making insufficient progress on data collection and analysis. It uses examples from the parallel discipline of public health to explore four challenges, or “problems”, relevant to the further development of the knowledge base underpinning adult safeguarding policy.
Four recommendations emerge for closing the adult safeguarding “knowledge gap”, including the development of a national research strategy for adult safeguarding. In a fifth recommendation the paper also proposes a clearer recognition of the contribution that local public health professionals can make to local adult safeguarding policy making and programme development.
The first four recommendations of this paper would serve as the basis for developing a national research strategy for adult safeguarding. The fifth would strengthen the contribution of local public health departments to safeguarding adults boards.
The author is unaware of the existence of any other review of the limitations of the adult safeguarding knowledge base as a foundation for policy making, or which proposes strategic solutions. The work is valuable for its practical proposals.
The author is grateful to Jill Manthorpe for valuable comments on an early draft of the manuscript.
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