Self Neglect PT Cover Photo

Working with people who self-neglect: Practice Tool (2020)

Published: 17/12/2020

Author: Braye S, Preston-Shoot M


This December 2020 version is the latest update of the original, first published in 2015, updated in 2016 and written by Suzy Braye, David Orr and Michael Preston-Shoot. It was updated in 2020 by Suzy Braye and Michael Preston-Shoot.

The term ‘self-neglect’ is commonly used by practitioners to describe widely differing behaviour or lifestyle. Statutory guidance (Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), 2020) defines it as ‘a wide range of behaviour neglecting to care for one’s personal hygiene, health or surroundings and includes behaviour such as hoarding’. There is inevitably a subjective element to using the term and the person concerned may not use it to describe their own situation.

This resource aims to support adult social care practice with people who self-neglect through lack of self-care (for example, neglect of personal hygiene, nutrition, hydration and/or health) and/or lack of care of the domestic environment (for example, squalor or hoarding) where risks to health or wellbeing are extreme and there is reluctance to take action to mitigate those risks. The tool is supported by a webinar, which brings together research evidence and provides additional resources to support practitioners working in this area.

The resource includes:

  • An overview of research findings on self-neglect.
  • Guidance on understanding and engaging with the experience of self-neglect.
  • Guidance on practice approaches that can support positive outcomes.
  • An overview of the legal framework for self-neglect practice.
  • An outline of the key organisational features that support self-neglect practice.
  • A practice model illustrating the key decisions to be taken by practitioners.
  • Signposting to research findings and further resources.

Professional Standards

PQS:KSS - Assuring good social work practice and development | Developing confident and capable social workers | Safeguarding | Mental capacity | Effective assessment and outcome based support planning | Direct work with individuals and families | Professional ethics and leadership

CQC - Caring | Safe

PCF - Rights, justice and economic wellbeing | Intervention and skills

RCOT - Service users | Screen needs | Develop intervention | Evaluate impact | Communication