Prevention in adult safeguarding: a review of the literature

Document type
Literature review
Faulkner, Alison; Sweeney, Angela
Social Care Institute for Excellence
Date of publication
1 May 2011
Adults' services SCIE report; 41
Social Work, Social Care and Social Services, Disabled people, Mental health services, Older Adults
Social welfare
Material type

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Prevention of abuse has not always been high on the adult safeguarding agenda. However, there is growing consensus about the importance of everyone with an interest in adult care services making efforts to prevent abuse of vulnerable adults. Relatively little research exists on the prevention of abuse of vulnerable adults. What research has been done focuses on people with learning disabilities and older adults, and on institutional settings. Studies tend to be small-scale with little evidence of generalisability. Effective prevention in safeguarding needs to be broadly defined and should include all social care user groups and service configurations. It does not mean being over-protective or risk-averse.

Some of the most common prevention interventions for vulnerable adults include training and education of vulnerable adults and staff on abuse in order to help them to recognise and respond to abuse. Other approaches include: identifying people at risk of abuse; awareness raising; information, advice and advocacy; policies and procedures; community links; legislation and regulation; interagency collaboration and a general emphasis on promoting empowerment and choice. Prevention needs to take place in the context of person-centred support and personalisation, with individuals empowered to make choices and supported to manage risks.

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