Self-neglect at Christmas

Self-neglect at Christmas

Posted on Dec 16, 2016

Vulnerable adults at Christmas



Anyone can be subject to abuse, both children and adults alike. In previous blogs we’ve discussed the various ways adults can be at risk, or, vulnerable.

This can be for a number of reasons including their mental or physical state, living situation, and health. It’s important to remember that an adult may move in and out of vulnerability as their situation changes, for better or worse, either suddenly or more gradually over time.


What is safeguarding?

safeguard [ˈseɪfɡɑːd]


1. protect from harm or damage with an appropriate measure.


When we apply this definition to a vulnerable adult we must remember the key is protecting their health, wellbeing and human rights and ensure they live free from harm, abuse and neglect.


What is self-neglect?

self-neglect [sɛlfnɪˈɡlɛkt]


1. neglect of oneself, especially one's physical well-being.


Self-neglect is an adult failing to take care of them self in such a way that it has caused, or is likely to cause, serious physical, mental or emotional harm or substantial damage to, or loss of, assets.


Self-neglect can happen as a result of an individual's choice of lifestyle, or the person may:


  • be depressed
  • have poor health
  • have cognitive (memory or decision making) problems
  • be physically unable to care for self.


Introduced in April 2015, The Care Act 2014 included self-neglect as a form of abuse for the first time. Unfortunately, people who neglect themselves don’t see what they are doing as a problem, so care services are presented with a real challenge when it comes to intervention.

Self-neglect is a broad concept and quite a difficult one to pin down. It can originate for widely different reasons and manifest in different ways, including:


  • not eating regularly, or healthily
  • not taking prescribed medicine
  • living in dirty and poor conditions
  • substance abuse
  • hoarding
  • poor personal hygiene.


Self-neglect at Christmas

As we move into the winter months, self-neglect can become a much more serious issue. As the weather gets colder, not having adequate heating can become a trigger for illness.

Regular support services tend to be more limited, leaving lots of individuals to fend for themselves more than they normally would.

Research carried out for the charity Age UK back in 2015 suggests as many as 60 per cent (that’s six million) of the UK’s over-65s say the Christmas period is an unhappy time of the year. They miss loved ones who have died and other friends and family are too busy or distant to visit.

Loneliness can be a serious health hazard, and is closely linked to self-neglect.


Staff Training

Ensuring your staff are aware of the prevalence of adult abuse, that they know what to do if they suspect it, and they know how to report it, is key. Training is an essential part of this process.

Adult safeguarding training ensures we understand forms of adult abuse, what to look out for and how and when to act. Correct training should give an understanding of what an ‘Adult at Risk’ is, and that some adults are more susceptible to abuse than others.

flick's adult safeguarding training covers all the key areas:


  • The definition of an adult at risk
  • Physical abuse
  • Sexual abuse
  • Psychological or emotional abuse
  • Financial abuse
  • Neglect
  • Self-Neglect
  • Institutional abuse
  • Responding to disclosures
  • The Care Act 2014

 adults at risk


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