Liz Hanley, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) Safeguarding Policy Network Co-Lead, spoke about changing approaches to safeguarding, ‘Making Safeguarding Personal’ (MSP) at The Adult Safeguarding Conference 2020.  


A Local Government Association (LGA) and ADASS joint report found when looking at work without a person-centred approach that ‘people tend to feel driven through a process in safeguarding’. The report highlighted how at best individuals felt involved in decisions, at worst they were left feeling hardly informed [1].  

The report noted that most people do want to be safer, but there are things equally as important to them, such as maintaining relationships [1].‘Where people have been subjected to financial abuse… respondents commonly viewed the financial loss to be less significant than the emotional and psychological impacts’ [2].

This echoes the findings of previous reports where ‘people who used safeguarding services said that they wanted to be listened to and to make choices and not to be treated like children’ [1]  

What has changed?  

A change in the statutory framework for safeguarding adults has moved towards ‘Making Safeguarding Personal’. The Care Act (2018) redefined safeguarding as:  

‘people and organisations working together to prevent and stop both the risks and experience of abuse or neglect, while at the same time making sure that the adult’s wellbeing is promoted including, where appropriate, having regard to their views, wishes, feelings and beliefs in deciding on any action’ [3]  

Making Safeguarding Personal is a shift in culture and practice to a more person led approach [1]. ADASS describes it as ‘having conversations with people about how we might respond in safeguarding situations in a way that enhances involvement, choice and control as well as improving quality of life, wellbeing and safety’ [1].

This change in approach views the individual as an expert in their own lives and places. Most importantly ADASS call it a ‘shift from a process supported by conversations to a series of conversations supported by a process’ [1].  

Making Safeguarding Personal sits firmly within the Department of Health’s Care and Support Statutory Guidance, as revised in 2017. It means safeguarding adults is:   

  • person-led   
  • outcome-focused   
  • engages the person and enhances involvement, choice and control   
  • improves the quality of life, wellbeing and safety [3]  

So, how do we respond to these changes?   

Liz outlines 4 steps to support the new framework:  

  1. Understanding the person’s wishes and feelings concerning the risk   

Liz stresses three questions that should be asked to every individual:  

  • What is important to you?  
  • What do you want to happen and how?  
  • What do you want to be different and how? [4]  

By asking these questions safeguarding can be done with, and not to, people. Liz continues, “often we talk about ‘putting’ someone into a care home instead we need to make sure that the individual is at the centre of decision making.” For those who lack the mental capacity to make decisions, we should be working as hard as we can to establish what their wishes and feelings would be if they had that capacity and then support them to make decisions with advocacy [4].  

  1. Understanding the impact of risks to the person   

There is a need to recognise the impact a risk has on an individual and balance that risk with the individuals’ wants and needs. As Lord Mumby, president of the Court of Protection said: ‘what good is it making somebody safe if it means they are miserable’ [5]. Liz discussed how “physical health and safety can often be bought at too high a price; we must practice sensible risk appraisal” [4].  

  1. Enabling and responding to risk   

Liz outlines how we “need to be aware of an over interventionist culture to adult safeguarding” [4].  We need to keep restrictions to a minimum, ensuring an emphasis on what would improve the quality of life as well as safety [1].   

  1. Planning and contingency  

A contingency plan can be relatively simple, offering another option if the situation is to change. ADASS considers contingency planning as a whole system process and that they must be embedded into day-to-day practice [6].    

Health and social care personnel have a leadership role in encouraging the development of Making Safeguarding Personal. Liz discussed with us the importance that practitioners develop the “legal literacy to understand what legal options might be appropriate to use to support someone to keep themselves safe from abuse or neglect” [4].  

Liz provided us with some resources to help individuals expand their knowledge of the Making Safeguarding Personal approach. They can be found below.  



[1] ADASS, LGA. 2014. Making Safeguarding Personal. [Accessed 1 February 2021] 

[2] Mowlam, A., Tennant, R., Josie, D., McCreadie, C. 2007. UK Study of Abuse and Neglect of Older People: Qualitative Findings. [Accessed 1 February 2021] 

[3] 2018. Care and Support Statutory Guidance [Accessed 1 February 2021] 

[4] Liz Hanley. 2020. The Adult Safeguarding Conference 2020  

[5] Lord Justice Mundy. 2010. “What Price Dignity?” Keynote LGA Conference 

[6] ADASS. 2019. Contingency Planning Toolkit and Guidance.  [Accessed 1 February 2021] 

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Liz Hanley, Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) Safeguarding Policy Network Co-Lead, spoke about changing approaches to safeguarding, ‘Making Safeguarding Personal’ (MSP) at The Adult Safeguarding Conference 2020.

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