How does leadership contribute to safeguarding vulnerable adults within healthcare organisations? A review of the literature

Stevens, Emma L. (2015). How does leadership contribute to safeguarding vulnerable adults within healthcare organisations? A review of the literature. The Journal of Adult Protection, 17(4) pp. 258–272.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/JAP-09-2014-0028

Abstract

Purpose
The purpose of this paper is to identify aspects of leadership and evaluate their contribution to safeguarding vulnerable adults in healthcare organisations through conducting a critical review of literature. To identify or adapt a leadership framework to contribute to safeguarding vulnerable adults in healthcare organisations through analysis of the literature.

Design/methodology/approach
The methodology was qualitative and inductive. It was based on constructivism and an interpretive theoretical perspective, beginning without hypothesis. Themes emerged during the process. A critical review of literature was undertaken to answer the research question. Literature was sourced from a variety of health and social care databases and grey literature. All inclusions underwent rigorous critical appraisal and a total of 18 papers were explored.

Findings
The importance of clear leadership and direction was a common theme across the majority of sources. Aspects of leadership that can safeguard vulnerable adults in health care organisations include organisational culture, implementation of policies, procedures and frameworks, and reinforcing strong values and ethics around empowering individuals and delivering person-centred care. Through the meta-synthesis of findings, a model of leadership emerged.

Research limitations/implications
The critical review utilised only one reviewer and the proposed leadership framework has not been empirically tested.

Practical implications
The paper proposes a leadership framework that can be applied within healthcare organisations to safeguard vulnerable adults.

Originality/value
This paper fulfils the need for evidence that supports the belief that strong leadership can safeguard vulnerable adults. It provides a comprehensive review of existing literature in this area.

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