Self neglect

When providing care and support or acting to safeguarding adults there is a balance to be struck between care and treatment being provided and an adult’s right to self-determination. This guidance provides a pathway for dealing with adults who may be vulnerable and for whom self-neglect is an issue.

Self-Neglect is defined by Department of Health as “… a wide range of behaviours neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings, including behaviour such as hoarding” (2014)

  • Lack of self-care to an extent that it threatens personal health and safety
  • Neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings
  • Inability to avoid self-harm
  • Failure to seek help or access services to meet health and social care needs
  • Inability or unwillingness to manage one’s personal affairs

What is Self-Neglect?

This covers a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding, inappropriate nutrition and harm to health due to chronic hygiene issues.

Unlike other forms of harm, self-neglect has no ‘perpetrator’. Abuse cannot be excluded however as a possible cause of someone becoming ‘self-neglecting’, hence the Care Act 2014 and the Care Act guidance requiring that we have measures in place to address the causes of self-neglect or hoarding.

What does Self-Neglect look like?

  • Rapid or continuous weight loss
  • Not having access to necessary physical aides
  • Inadequate or inappropriate clothing
  • Dirty clothing/bedding
  • Lack of personal care
  • Very poor personal hygiene
  • Unkempt appearance
  • Lack of essential food, clothing or shelter
  • Malnutrition and/or dehydration
  • Living in squalid or unsanitary conditions
  • Neglecting household maintenance
  • Hoarding
  • Collecting a large number of animals in inappropriate conditions
  • Non-compliance with health or care services
  • Inability or unwillingness to take medication or treat illness or injury

Related document

Self Neglect and Hoarding Protocol 2018 (PDF, 1MB)

Reporting abuse on adults

Anyone that suspects another professional or adult of abuse or neglect has a duty to refer it to the relevant employer or safeguarding agency to be investigated.

If you need to raise a Safeguarding Adults concern, please call 01472 256 256. This number is available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Related website

Social Care Institute for Excellence – Self neglect