Ways to spot self-neglect highlighted during awareness week

Date: 13 Jun 2017

Category: Campaign

For this year’s Stop Adult Abuse Week (12 – 16 June), safeguarding adult boards from across the region are joining together to raise awareness about the types of abuse that can take place in someone’s home.

Abuse exists in many different forms, such as financial abuse, scams and self-neglect. These types of abuse can happen to anyone; however those at greater risk include the elderly, people living with learning disabilities, mental ill-health or severe illness.

In Bristol, the focus for Stop Adult Abuse Week is self-neglect, with 77 cases reported in the city during 2016/17.

Self-neglect is when a person does not look after themselves fully, this may be due to a choice they have made, or because they are unable to do so due to illness. Signs that someone is self-neglecting could include not taking medication, having poor personal hygiene and living in dirty or unsafe conditions.

There are many things that friends and family can look out for such as an individual having no food or heating in their home, hoarding items, not washing, refusing to take medication and refusing to engage with support from loved ones or professionals.

"Everyone has the right to live a life that is free from abuse, neglect and self-neglect. Anyone can be affected, especially the most vulnerable, so it is important we are aware of the warning signs and report it at the earliest opportunity."

- Dr Martin Jones, clinical chair at NHS Bristol Clinical Commissioning Group

"Preventing people from self-neglecting is everyone’s responsibility. It is important that we are aware of the warning signs and help the individual access the help and support they need. Self-neglect cases are often complex, as the individual finds it difficult to build trust and engage with anyone who is looking to support them. However, you should contact Care Direct on 0117 922 2700 if you have any concerns for an individual."

- Louise Lawton, chair of the Bristol Adult Safeguarding Board

"Self-neglect is often really hard to spot, and notoriously hard to deal with as people may often refuse support or even recognise that there is a problem. It can take a big toll on families, as when someone stops caring for themselves they may not engage with those close to them - which can be very difficult. We’re using Stop Adult Abuse Week to have a conversation about this, raise awareness and let people know that there is professional support available to help safeguard the most vulnerable in our communities."

- Councillor Helen Holland, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care

Cover for Self-neglect leaflet

Self-neglect leaflet

Bristol Safeguarding Adults Board has produced a useful leaflet that provides information around self-neglect and what to look out for.

Cover for Safe City Leaflet

Safe City Leaflet

Bristol Safeguarding Adults Board has produced this information leaflet as part of the ongoing campaign to stop adult abuse.  

This is the first time that all five neighbouring safeguarding adult boards, from Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset, Somerset and South Gloucestershire, have come together in this way.

The week-long campaign will focus on the following:

  • Monday 12 June - Prevention
  • Tuesday 13 June - Self-neglect
  • Wednesday 14 June – Financial  abuse
  • Thursday 15 June - Scams
  • Friday 16 June - How to report abuse

The reasons for self-neglect can be deep and wide ranging, and are not often quickly addressed, but there are some subtle signs you can look out for if you’re worried about someone you know.

10 signs to look out for:

1. Missed appointments - be that with the doctors, optician or socially – can be a warning sign that things aren’t right

2. Poor hygiene can also be a sign that someone is losing interest in taking care of themselves

3. Clothing is important and if someone who is usually well-kept starts wearing inappropriate, dirty or soiled clothing it could mean that they can’t cope

4. Not having appropriate medical aids such as glasses, hearing aids and walking frames is a cause for concern

5. Refusing help or medication can also be a warning sign

6. Within the home, a lack of food or unsuitable food is a sign that someone doesn’t care for their wellbeing

7. Not cleaning the home leading to infestations of insects or other animals is a big worry and can indicate a lack of care for surroundings which comes with self-neglecting

8. Hoarding items or animals and not disposing of rubbish is a red flag

9. In the colder months a lack of heating in the home indicates someone is not looking after themselves properly

10. Not allowing people into the home, including the landlord, care workers etc. to make repairs or visits when necessary is another indicator that all is not well.

Dealing with self-neglect can be extremely challenging and complex and finding the right time to intervene can be difficult. Social workers are specially trained to work with people to address their issues, so if you’re concerned about someone you know who lives in Bristol call Care Direct on 0117 922 2700, or if the danger is immediate call 999.

If you would like to find out about more information please visit Bristol CCG’s website or join in the conversation on Twitter by using #stopadultabuseweek.