Safeguarding vulnerable adults: exploring the challenges to best practice across multi‐agency settings

Stevens, Emma (2013). Safeguarding vulnerable adults: exploring the challenges to best practice across multi‐agency settings. The Journal of Adult Protection, 15(2) pp. 85–95.



Purpose - The purpose of this paper is to highlight contemporary issues in achieving best practice in safeguarding adults across multi‐agency settings. Design/methodology/approach - The paper is an empirical exploration, reviewing a range of relevant literature and recent policy to present evidence suggesting that there continue to be challenges in achieving best practice in multi‐agency approaches to safeguarding. The literature review was undertaken using the following databases: Cumulative Index of Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), Cochrane, PsycINFO and Medline. The inclusion criteria included being peer‐reviewed and published between 2004 and 2012. The key words used were: “safeguarding adults” and “abuse”. Further literature was found through adopting a “snowballing” technique, in which additional sources were found from the reference lists used in the initial articles. Findings - Although guidance such as No Secrets from the Department of Health, in 2000, emphasises the importance of a multi‐agency approach, this continues to be problematic and presents challenges. In practice, differing professionals may not fully understand each other's roles and responsibilities and both thresholds and scope of adult abuse are still not universally agreed. Legislation could be used positively to mandate the multi‐agency approach to adult safeguarding, supported by local Safeguarding Adults Boards and local policies can be used to provide guidance and clarity for practitioners. Further empirical investigation into supporting the multi‐agency approach is required. Originality/value - The paper fulfils the need for discussion on the complexities and challenges that continue to present in multi‐agency responses to adult safeguarding practice.

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