Self Neglect

This week is national safeguarding adult’s week, today we are focusing on self-neglect. Self-neglect is a behavioural condition that leads to a person not being able to look after their own basic needs. These include not looking after their living environment, not seeking advice for medical issues, hoarding animals or items and the inability to maintain their own personal hygiene. 

Adults can be at risk of self-neglect due to a number of reasons; it could be a physical disability, an illness, their age or their mental health. They may find it difficult to protect themselves from abuse because of their care and support needs.

Alison Budd, Safeguarding Lead and Director of Nursing for North Cumbria integrated Care NHS Foundation Trust explains the types of self-neglect:

“There are two main types of self-neglect, they are intentional / active which is when a person makes a conscious decision to partake. This can include not going to the doctor when they know they are unwell and going days without washing themselves when they know they need to. The other type of self-neglect is non-intentional/passive this is when health related conditions contribute to the risk of self-neglect developing. For example a person with a dementia may suffer from regular memory loss and forget to cook themselves food.”

Catherine Whalley, Assistant Director, Adult Social Care at Cumbria County Council explains: “Responding to concerns of self-neglect can be both demanding and challenging for everyone involved. Findings from practice and conversations with people affected identify that success can be realised through the building of relationships.  By working in this way, we are able to genuinely balance the issue of managing risk and supporting a strengths based way of working to work together to identify meaningful solutions.  

Adult Social Care have made significant changes to how we handle incoming safeguarding referrals, ensuring people consistently get a timely, person-centred and appropriate response. Working with our partners we have strengthened how we share information about people in need of help so we are all aware of what work is happening and how best to provide support. In addition, we have worked closely with Cumbria Safeguarding Adults Board to develop guidance for professionals to support them in responding to cases of self-neglect”

Alison Budd added: “Self-neglect is very complex and an area that health and care organisations take very seriously. Staff are supported to spot the signs of self-neglect and to understand what action to take through regular staff briefings and training, by working together to raise concerns and understand and deliver the best support for people who could be suffering from self-neglect.”

Safeguarding is everyone’s business. If you have a safeguarding concern contact Adult Social Care.
For more information on safeguarding in Cumbria visit the safeguarding website

There are a number of resources available to find out more about self neglect:
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